Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Forgotten Cereals are Back

Published: 24th February 2015 06:04 AM
Last Updated: 24th February 2015 06:04 AM

JP NAGAR:An NGO is striving to bring millets, once a staple in these parts, back into our daily diet.
 Sahaja Organics, run by Sahaja Samrudha Organic Producer, an NGO based in VV Puram, has been organising millet melas across Karnataka.
 “If we just tell people about the importance of the cereal, nobody is going to eat it. So, we had a competition where 25 women participated and made 70 to 80 dishes of millets,” Anita Reddy, trustee of Sahaja Samrudha, told City Express.

One of the highlights was bajra roti with navane (fox tail millet) chutney powder. “It has an exquisite taste,” she said.
 Millets can be consumed for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are one of the oldest foods known to humans, she explained.
 “Vedic scriptures like Sathapatha Brahmana have ample references to millets.” she said. “And several varieties are found on Harappan and Mohenjodaro archeological sites.”
 The Millet Mela that concluded in JP Nagar on Sunday introduced brown top millet, which Anita explained can be grown anywhere with little care.
“Brown top millet has 17.5 per cent fibre, whereas oats has just 11 per cent. We promote oats so much, but never promote millets. Melas are thus helping us to create awareness,” she explained.
 Sahaja Samrudha was founded in 2010 with the objective of improving the livelihood of farmers through the marketing of organic produce to urban consumers.
 “Our NGO works towards conservation of traditional pulses, millets and cereals. We are working with some groups in southern India,” she said.
 The NGO hopes the cereals will become a part of everyday meals. “Unless it is viable, farmers will not cultivate the cereals. Marketing is one aspect of our conservation work,” she said.
 She said the promotion of oats, which is not produced in our country, was common. “Why should we eat a foreign product, when we have our traditional millets in our own backyard?” she said.
 The price of millet ranges from Rs 70 to Rs 80 a kilo. “The processing is expensive, and that explains the price. The farmers of north Karnataka and Tumakuru produce these millets. We get our produce processed in Tamil Nadu. The logistics is working out expensive,” Anita said.
 Karnataka doesn’t have a good processing unit to clean and remove the husk. Millets sold by Sahaja Samrudha are not polished.
 Apart from millets, Sahaja Samrudha is the only company that sells red rice wholesale in Karnataka.
 “We have dark, red rice, which is not available in the normal market. Our other exclusive product is corn, which comes in varieties of black and red,” she said.
Sahaja Samrudha, #19, Sajjan Rao Road, VV Puram. For details, call 2661 2315, email sahajaindia@gmail.com or
log on to sahajasamrudha.org

SOURCE: http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/Forgotten-Cereals-are-Back/2015/02/24/article2683686.ece

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