Millet Processing Unit Opens At Odisha’s Keonjhar; Cafe To Come Up Soon

Keonjhar: At a time when people are looking for healthy alternatives to maintain their diet and keep diseases away, ‘mandia’ is working its magic and has made a comeback in Odisha.

Odisha Government has stepped up its efforts in its endeavour to promote health and provide organic food to people in every district. Under Odisha Millets Mission, the wonder millet has not only benefitted farmers but also provided a source of income for the women working with self-help groups (SHGs).

On Wednesday, a millet processing unit was inaugurated by district collector Ashish Thakare here.

The first millet processing unit of the districts is being managed by Krushna SHG with support from Mission Shakti and District Mineral Foundation.

Thakare said the unit has a capacity of cleaning about two quintals per hour and can clean over 500 quintals in a month, thus providing a consistent source of livelihood to the SHG. The district’s requirement for mandia now is around 110 quintals, he added.

The unit will ensure supply of clean Ragi for the flagship ICDS Ragi Laddu programme of the district administration.

A cleaned and processed mandia will be sent to all anganwadi centres, said the Collector. “We plan to set up a Mandia Cafe at the collectorate office to promote varieties of snacks and dishes that can be prepared from mandia,” he added.

Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment and  Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN) is providing the technical support.

Keonjhar district administration had earned laurels from Government of India and Niti Aayog for inclusion of Ragi laddu as morning snacks for pre-school children enrolled under ICDS in the district.

Millet Processing Unit Opens At Keonjhar; Cafe To Come Up Soon
Collector Ashish Thakare interacting with women at the millets processing unit in Keonjhar town

More about mandia cultivation in Keonjhar:

Odisha Millets Mission was initiated in Keonjhar district in 2019. Under the five-year programme, mining affected villages of 7 blocks in the districts – Banspal, Champua, Joda, Jhumpura, Harichandanpur, Hatadihi and Sadar – were taken up for mandia cultivation.

More than 4000 farmers have benefitted under various components of the programme. Moreover, after the launch of Ragi procurement at MSP farmers are getting an assured price for Ragi which has boosted the morale of the farmers who often fear losses from paddy cultivation.

Ragi is being used for State Nutrition Programmes (ICDS, MDM) and Public Distribution System (PDS).

An area of 1,050 hectares was brought under millet cultivation in Kharif 2020.

In Rabi 2020, more than 500 hectares in these seven blocks and would be covered.

TDCCOL, Keonjhar, the district-level procurement agency would procure more than 2,300 quintals of Ragi by March 2021 at Rs 3,295  per quintal under KMS 2020-21 to support Ragi growing farmers.

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