In a commendable move to revive traditional farming and boost millet production, local governments in Makwanpur have introduced a series of initiatives. These measures aim not only to increase millet cultivation but also to ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their produce.
A Focus on School Meals and Traditional Dishes
One of the standout initiatives is from a rural municipality in Makwanpur that has mandated the preparation of millet-based dishes every Thursday. This rule ensures that school children receive nutritious millet meals as part of their mid-day meal programme. The dishes range from millet doughnuts to halwa, introducing the younger generation to the rich taste and health benefits of this grain.
Subsidies to Encourage Millet Farming
Two rural municipalities, Makwanpur Gadhi and Bhimphedi, have taken the lead in promoting millet cultivation. They have launched a subsidy scheme from the current fiscal year, aiming to incentivize farmers to shift their focus back to this traditional crop.
Sukum Bahadur Ghalan, a local farmer from Kalikhola in Makwanpur Gadhi rural municipality-4, is a testament to the scheme's success. Having cultivated millet on 7 ropanis just two years ago, he now sees the potential and has plans to expand. Ambika Chaulagain, another farmer, has increased her millet cultivation area fivefold in just two years.
Pricing and Market Assurance
Farmers, including Kusum Bahadur Ghalan, have expressed their satisfaction with the current market value of millet. The assurance of a stable market and good pricing has motivated many to consider millet as a primary source of income, moving away from its traditional use as mere animal feed.
Makwanpur Gadhi rural municipality has set a support price of Rs45 per kg for millet. Additionally, they offer a subsidy of Rs2 per kg to farmers selling their produce to local cooperatives. Another Rs2 per kg is provided to cooperatives for effective market management.
Federal Support and Expansion
The federal government has also recognized the potential of millet and has begun offering subsidies. Last year, Makwanpur Gadhi rural municipality saw millet cultivation spread across 250 hectares. This year, it has expanded to 300 hectares, involving nearly 200 households.
In a bid to promote millet consumption, the rural municipality has branded their millet flour for market introduction. They've also incentivized the cultivation of barren lands, offering a subsidy of Rs900 per ropani. This initiative saw 41 ropanis of unused land being converted into farmland last year.
Bhimphedi rural municipality is not far behind. They've introduced a subsidy of Rs2,500 per ropani for millet cultivation this fiscal year. This has resulted in a significant increase in millet farmers. The cultivation area has tripled, with millet now being planted on nearly 3,000 ropanis.
However, Keshav Rijal, chief of the agriculture branch at Bhimphedi rural municipality, believes that the allocated budget of Rs2.5 million for promoting millet cultivation might fall short given the growing interest.
Makwanpur's initiatives highlight the potential of traditional farming and the benefits of supporting local farmers. With the combined efforts of local and federal governments, millet is poised to reclaim its position as a staple in the region, benefiting both farmers and consumers.