While Professor Haider from Birsa Agriculture University visited the fields in the target villages of NJH Community Health work, we got to witness a very telling fact about millet farming.
At Patna village, we got to meet a farmer who had sown 2 adjacent fields with finger millet and rice. Our staff had not noticed it. However, when Professor Haider visited the place, he pointed the obvious difference. It did not need any explanation.
|The ragi field is on the right and the rice is on the left . . .|
|Prof. Haider and the rest of the team walking through the rice field.|
There was not even one panicle of grain in the rice field. It was in a sorry state of affairs with yellowish dwarfed slivers of leaves. The farmer told us that he had in fact given some amount of water to the rice field. However, it did not do any good. He had not tended the madwa field much. However, it was evident that he had a better than average finger millet crop.
He was happy to have tried finger-millet. He told us that he would have at least couple of sacks millet grain for the year. If he had put rice in both the fields, he would have lost everything.
Something was better than nothing.
I’m at anew place now. Here, finger millet is not much known. But, there are farmers who grow pearl millet (bajra). On interaction with patients from the nearby villages, it is very obvious that pearl millet farming is also on the way out. Farmers prefer to grow rice or wheat.
|Bajra (pearl millet) at NJH. We had tried out a small plot this year and got a good yield|
I’m sure it’s worth to look at the possibility of a program/project to promote pearl millet farming. Pearl millet also has many common features with finger millet, including the property of requiring less water than other crops. In addition, pearl millet is a rich source of Iron and maybe it could be the solution to Iron deficiency woes of the country.