Kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum) and kutki millet (also known as little millet, Panicum sumatrense) are central to traditional rainfed farming systems of Gond farmers in eastern Madhya Pradesh, India. These cereals have good protein, fibre and mineral content with a low glycemic index. Because of their low water requirements and early maturation that helps them escape drought, they are recognized as key assets to support farmer adaptation to climate change, which ts bringing ever greater drought pressure to eastern Madhya Pradesh. Despite these important values, the production area of minor millets has declined more than 50% in Madhya Pradesh in the past two decades. Low productivity, weak market channels, and difficult processing have encouraged abandonment of small millets as more convenient and profitable crops have been introduced, and market access and opportunities for wage labor have developed in the region. Production of minor millets remains important among tribal farmers in isolated sloping and rocky lands where other crops are difficult to produce, yet low yields and poor marketability limit the benefits they provide these populations.
Unleashing multiple benefits from minor millets
To secure greater benefits from minor millets for producers and to encourage their wider use in support of climate change adaptation, a holistic approach addressing multiple bottlenecks in their supply and demand was followed in the project “Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation, and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk", Activities sought to connect producers to markets and to enhance and multiply impacts for food security, conservation, profitability and women’s empowerment. From 2015 to 2019, multiple stakeholders were consulted and involved to devise pro-poor and gender-sensitive interventions. Farmer producer companies that were owned by women shareholders from the focal communities were a key point of interventions to raise productivity and enhance the commercial potential of these crops.