Finger millet becomes ICRISAT’s mandate crop

Hyderabad, Oct 2 (IANS) The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has made finger millet its mandate crop.

Finger millet figured among the six small millets in the research portfolio of the institute.

“Finger millet has always been within our mandate crops but we want to provide greater visibility to this nutri-cereal that offers so much to both small holders in the form of economic opportunity and to consumers (including farm families) in the form of improved nutrition,” ICRISAT Director General David Bergvinson said in a statement.

The ICRISAT genebank holds nearly 6,000 finger millet germplasm accessions from 24 countries, conserved for use in research and development.

Among the ICRISAT projects that focus on finger millet, the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (HOPE) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is showing encouraging results in improving productivity of finger millet and household incomes in East Africa.

This was achieved by enabling farmers to adopt improved varieties and associated agronomic practices and linking producers to both input and product markets, the statement added.

In Karnataka, finger millet is among the “climate smart” crops that figures high on the agenda of the government.

Along with its partners, ICRISAT is targeting commercial production of finger millet, diversification of household-level diets, value addition and processing for food, feed and industry.

Efforts are being made to pilot and incubate small and medium entrepreneurs from among the farmer groups and individuals to develop products for the market.

The other mandate crops of ICRISAT are sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut.

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