Who says farmers are always toiling away in the fields and do not have fun? I had a chance to meet Eshwarappa Siddappa Banakar, from Hireyadachi in Haveri district of Karnataka at the Millet Mela last weekend. The fair was jointly organised by the National Agricultural Innovation Project, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, Pristine Organics and Sahaja Organics. Creativity was at its best display as they put their act together to promote the use of millets in daily food habits.

Tastefully decorated stage adorned by millets

Eshwarappa had brought with him atleast two dozen varieties of millets – jowar, ragi,sajje and other medicinal plants. He adorned a beautiful cap made out of millets and had factual stories to share about the vital need to focus on alternatives to cash crops such as rice & wheat, which were popularized post The Green Revolution in India. In the conventional argument of pro-mass production drive we chose to drive the farming community to focus only on the high yielding varieties. This meant that we did not get a closer look at the local geographical conditions and choose crops which suited the micro-climate of that region. Instead, wesupplemented the soil with fertilizers and pesticides and would invest millions of dollars to build large dams which would bring in water for irrigation. Cash crops are highly water consumptive which has resulted in a variety of challenges in agriculture.

Read the rest of this entry »