The MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) has been installing millet flour mills for household use in several villages of Koraput District in Odisha. These mills have helped reduce the drudgery involved to process millets, especially for women. Tribal women have always hand-pounded millets into flour for daily use. The flour processing units have helped save time and have increased millet flour consumption in the farm families.
The intervention received much appreciation from tribal people, and because of rising demand from the farmer community, MSSRF installed ten mini-flour mills in the cluster villages in January this year. The mills will cater to the needs of 20 tribal villages in Koraput District. Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chairperson, MSSRF, inaugurated one mill that was installed in Ramaguda Village under Mathapada Gram Panchayat, Boipariguda Block, on February 16. G.N. Hariharan, executive director, MSSRF, was present.
Since March 2021, MSSRF has installed 12 mini-flour mills in 12 village clusters that includes 27 tribal villages of Koraput District. The mills are managed by 12 women self-help groups (SHGs). The initiative is being supported under the Strengthening Livelihoods and Enhancing Food and Nutrition Security of Small and Marginal Farmers in Koraput through a Farming System Model project, funded by the Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production (DoA&FP), Government of Odisha, under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana that strives to improve health, nutrition, and livelihoods of the community by ensuring availability and access to nutrient-rich food in the farming system model.
The mini millet flour mills have benefited the tribal families in the following ways:
1. Consumption of finger-millet flour has increased by up to 30 per cent as it is readily available in a household
2. Time that was used by women to hand-pound the grain is now shared between child care and other household chores; and
3. Women SHGs have begun to earn more as they are engaged in operating the flour mills in the villages