Value additions to indigenous millet and paddy for improved quality of life among poor women
This project involves women farmers in acquiring skills to add values to organically produced indigenous food grains to address the problems of malnutrition and marketability.
The project area, 30 villages located in Annavasal block of Pudukkottai district in Tamil Nadu, India, is a semi-arid region. It reels under severe drought conditions very often. Poor farmers depend upon erratic rainfalls for cultivating their lands. As they lack alternative employable skills, they remain unemployed for the most part of the year. The district has the highest number of eucalyptus plantations in the entire state affecting the biodiversity and eventually the ecosystem in the project area.
Thanks to the timely intervention of ROSE to protect and promote indigenous millet and paddy production in rain-fed lands, these crops were saved from the risk of being extinct completely due to the introduction of hybrid and genetically modified seeds followed by chemical-based modern agricultural practices promoted by Green revolution. ROSE organized 1028 farmers both men and women having small holdings of lands and registered a company called Pudukkottai Organic Farmers Producer Company Limited (POFPCL) in 2013.
This company is involved in promoting the cultivation of indigenous millets and paddy varieties organically and procuring the food grains and market them at wider levels improving the livelihood of small and marginal farmers. In addition to the processing and packaging of indigenous varieties, it is also involved in value additions by way of making snacks and other eatables in a smaller way.
Due to the increased demand for these products from urban and sub-urban areas, this time seems to be the best time to promote these eatables at wider levels.
Millets have traditionally been the main components of the food basket of the poor people in India in general and the Pudukkottai district in particular. Some of the millets are categorized as small millets due to its size. The small millets is represented by six species, namely finger millet, little millet, Kodo millet, foxtail millet barnyard millet, and proso millet. These crops have traditionally been the indispensable component of the dry farming system in Pudukkottai and elsewhere. Even though they are small in size but they are not small in nutrition. Due to the consumption of hybrid and polished rice and the growth of fast food culture in urban and sub-urban areas at wider levels, the young generation has almost forgotten the importance of indigenous millet and paddy varieties.
ROSE has undertaken several steps, including organizing Food Festivals exclusively with value-added snacks from indigenous millet and paddy varieties. The demand for these value-added products are increasing slowly but steadily. We have produced eatable items like Mixture from Kodo Millet, Vada from Banana flower, Flakes Curd Rice from Thooya malli, a traditional paddy variety, crunchy snack from kauni rice, adhirasam from foxtail, puttu from powdered rice of Mappillai Samba rice, adhirasam from kauni rice, paniaram from kodo millet, lattu from green gram, lattu from foxtail millet, lattu from pearl millet, dosai using balloon vine, chutney from mint.
We have been exporting these eatable items to different metropolitan cities and other State Capitals in India. However, we are unable to meet the ever-growing demands of the public. Therefore, we are planning to decentralize the production process by providing skills training to women agricultural laborers and motivating them to produce the above-mentioned snacks to meet the growing demands from local traders and elsewhere. This project would improve the living conditions of not only rural poor women agricultural laborers but also the small and marginal farmers.
The introduction of snacks with indigenous millet and paddy varieties makes this project innovative and the growing demand for these value-added products would make it scalable in the long run.
This solution would benefit 300 poor landless women agricultural laborers who depend upon agriculture for their livelihood. These women beneficiaries are spread over in 30 villages of Annavasal block of the Pudukkottai district in Tamil Nadu, India. The GPS coordinates of the Pudukkottai District in India - Latitude: 10.3813 Longitude: 78.8214. It will also benefit 300 family members of targeted 300 poor women agricultural laborers and the community members of 30 villages.
Connecting with other initiatives, products, or services
ROSE is already involved in the promotion of organic farming in the Pudukkottai district for the last two decades. It has closely associated with Dr (late) Nammalvaar, the renowned natural scientist, in promoting organic farming not only within the Pudukkottai district but also elsewhere in Tamil Nadu. Farmers from all over Tamil Nadu are visiting ROSE to get trained on organic farming, including preparation of natural manures, vermicomposting, fish tonic, mixed solutions, pest repellents, etc., and methods of food processing and production of paddy and millet-based value-added products like multigrain bakeries/nutrition mix powder with micronutrient-snacks, sweets, savories, bakeries, organic edible oil, etc. POFPCL is fully involved in the promotion and conservation of indigenous millet and paddy varieties.
ROSE has been successful in restoring and preserving 51 varieties of indigenous millet and paddy varieties specific to the Pudukkottai district. These indigenous millet and paddy varieties have nutritional values. For example,, one cup of brown rice cooked (195 gram) has 216.4 calories, 1.76-gram fat, 0.64-gram monosaturated fat, 0.63-gram polyunsaturated fat, 0.35-gram saturated fat, 44.8-gram carbohydrate, 5.03-gram protein, 0.66-gram fiber, 0.19 mg thiamine (B1), 0.05 mg riboflavin, 2.98 mg nicotinic acid, 0.28 mg pantothenic acid, 0.28 mg Vitamin B6, 7.80 mg folic acid, 19.50 mg calcium, 0.82 mg iron, and 1.23 mg zinc5. Rice occupies a pivotal place in Indian Agriculture, as it forms the staple food for two-thirds of the population.
With support from National Agriculture Bank for Rural Development (NABARD), a Government of India undertaking, ROSE has been promoting 7 scented varieties of indigenous paddy in the Pudukkottai district for the last 6 years.
As mentioned earlier, ROSE has initiated the production and marketing of snacks since April 2019. Hence, the proposed idea of making snacks at the grassroots level as income generation units will build on, leverage and connect with the existing initiatives, products, and services in terms of support to integrated organic farming activities and marketing of organically cultivated indigenous millet and paddy varieties at local and wider levels.
The world will be better off because:
If we are successful, the world will be better off for poor landless women agricultural laborers because (1) they will have their own microenterprises owned either individually or collectively that would give them employment opportunity and regular income, (2) they will have employable skills that could be marketed through microenterprises where they work as employees or employers, (3) they will have access to nutritious snacks to fight against anemia among women and adolescent girls and malnutrition among their children, and, (4) their children would go to schools regularly and would excel in academic education unlike their parents.
We have started this project on a small scale in April, 2019.
Key milestonesThe key milestones will be:
Total budgetUSD 10,000
Expected contribution from The Roddenberry FoundationUSD 9,000
Breakup of expenses
The website link
Yes, we have a website http://www.rose.org.in/ in that has a separate web page with details of the proposed project. The link is: http://www.rose.org.in/project_to_roddenberry.html
Our team the ideal leader(s) for this project
The team working in ROSE is promoting traditional farming with organic inputs for the last two decades. It has succeeded in forming and registering a Farmer Producer Company (FPO) with 1028 persons, both men, and women, as shareholders. Farmers from all over Tamil Nadu are visiting us and get exposed to value addition processes in our campus. We have received the best FPO Award from State Government. We have contacts with farmers from all the districts in Tamil Nadu. With experience gained and knowledge acquired, our team is the ideal leader for this project to achieve new heights.