[ Prafulla Kaman ]
RIGA, 18 Dec: Pasighat (East Siang)-based College of Horticulture & Forestry (CHF), in collaboration with the Upper Siang district agriculture department, launched a millet cultivation project in remote Riga village in Upper Siang district on Thursday.
The project is sponsored by the ICAR-run Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR), Hyderabad, to increase millet production in the northeastern region.
CHF Agronomy Professor Dr Paban Kumar Gaudar said the objective of the project is to popularize millet cultivation in Arunachal.
“We are working to make the farmers aware that millet is a staple food and commercial cultivation of the cereal crop is highly beneficial,” Gaudar said.
The scientist observed that millet cultivation in Arunachal covers only 20-30 percent of the cropped area. The project aims to increase the rate to 70 to 80 percent.
“We have a target to cover 30 hectares cultivation (first phase) in seven selected districts, including Tirap and Changlang,” Gaudar informed.
Meanwhile, the agronomy department of Pasighat (East Siang)-based College of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Upper Siang agriculture development officer, organized a training programme on ‘Mechanized farming for escalating productivity of small millets in Arunachal Pradesh’ at Riga on the same day.
Altogether 120 farmers of the village participated in the programme, which was sponsored by Hyderabad (Telangana)-based Indian Institute of Millet Research.
Addressing the participants, Riga MO Dr Tonu Taki emphasized on the importance of cash crops as an alternative to shifting cultivation, and urged the farmers to learn from the agriculture scientists.
ADO Boum Padung presented an overall view of the agri-allied sector in the district and the potential for adopting and promoting millet cultivation in the district.
Drs SK Bandyopadhay and SK Pattanaaik along with N Devachandra interacted with the farmers on different aspects of millet cultivation.
The project’s PI, Dr Pavankumar Goudar, sensitized the farmers to the different items prepared from millets.
“Millets are only used to prepare ‘apong’ in Northeast India, but its use as a staple food needs to be established through such training,” he said, adding that “package of practices to grow millets is yet to be finalized by the universities for northeastern India.”