Vol. 7, Special Issue 1 (2018)
Conservation of minor millets for sustaining agricultural biodiversity and nutritional security
Author(s): Kanchan Nainwal, Omvati Verma and Reena
Abstract: Many people’s food and livelihood security depend on the sustained management of various biological resources that are important for food and agriculture. Agro biodiversity is the result of the interaction between the environment, genetic resources, management systems and practices used by culturally diverse peoples. The management of agro biodiversity by the indigenous communities is for a variety of reasons. The land use types, land use stages, aspect, soil fertility, availability of water and quality seed of crops etc. are essential variables which an indigenous farmer considers while cultivating a diversity of traditional landraces in the farm for food security. India is the largest producer of many kinds of millets, which are often referred as coarse cereals. However, realizing the nutrient richness of these grains they are now considered as nutria-cereals. Small millets, as a group includes several grain crops namely finger millet (ragi), proso millet, barnyard millet, italian millet, kodo millet and little millet. In the four decades since 1961, the area under millets declined by nearly 50% from about 18 million hectares to about 9 million hectares. During this time, production of millets declined from about 8.8 million tons to about 7.2 million tons; a decline of 18%. Tremendous decrease in area and production is directly or indirectly resulted in the loss of agro biodiversity of these crops as these crops are grown on marginal or rainfed areas without any fertilizers. Therefore, more emphasis should be given for maintaining bio diversity of these highly rich crops by increasing area under these minor millets and developing proper agro techniques for increasing its productivity. On the other side, India ranks second in the incidences of malnutrition among children and more than one third of the world's malnourished children live in India. Therefore, there is an urgent need to increase production of these crops as these are good source of calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and other micro nutrients. Among small millets, ragi has about 10 times more calcium than wheat or rice. These crops also have the potential for tackling the hidden hunger caused by micronutrient deficiencies but, they are grown in marginal land with improper management cultural practices. Therefore need of hour is to conserve these underutilized crops for food security and also for sustaining the agro-diversity. Traditional farming systems need to be strengthened to achieve the goals of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation.
How to cite this article:
Kanchan Nainwal, Omvati Verma and Reena. Conservation of minor millets for sustaining agricultural biodiversity and nutritional security. 2018; 7(1S): 1576-1580.