With the spotlight on millets this year (2023), the Kerala Agriculture department has decided to open ‘Millet Cafes’ in a bid to popularise millets and millet-based products.
The cafes will be opened in every district in a phased manner, Kerala Agriculture Minister P. Prasad told The Hindu on October 16. “We have many millet-based products today such as biscuits, cake, dosa and other snacks. The cafes are intended as outlets for these products,” he said.
According to the Minister, the department plans to have one cafe in every district. The cafes will serve millet-based foods and also have them on sale. “Our plan is to enable the ‘Krishikootam’ collectives and farmer producer organisations (FPO) to open them under the Poshaka Samriddhi Mission,” he said.
The department has been directed to prepare a list of possible locations.
Kerala’s first ‘Millet Cafe,’ a Kudumbashree initiative, was opened in Attappady, Palakkad, in 2022.
Government and non-government agencies in Kerala have launched various millet-based initiatives, with 2023 being celebrated as the International Year of Millets. In August, the Agriculture Department had announced an ambitious plan to increase millet production in the State to 3000 tonnes per annum under the Poshaka Samriddhi Mission.
Data released by the department show that millet production in Kerala, after a sharp decline since the early 2000s, have displayed signs of picking up after 2016-17. In the case of ragi (finger millet) which tops the millet list in Kerala, government data show that production rose from 261 tonnes in 2019-20 to 329.55 tonnes in 2020-21 and productivity from 1,225 kg/hectare to 1,431 kg/hectare.
On Friday, the Kerala government inked an MoU with the Hyderabad-based ICAR-Indian Institute of Millets Research (IIMR) for developing the State’s fledgling millet sector. The Agriculture department also hopes to secure the technical assistance of the IIMR for its Millet Cafe project.