Meet challenges of climate change through cultivation of coarse cereals
Coarse cereals like millet, maize, ragi, kodon, barley and jowar are less affected by climate change
As the production of wheat and paddy increased under the Green Revolution, so did the dishes made from nutritious coarse cereals from Indian plates and its per capita consumption decreased. Generally, the yield of coarse cereals is lower than that of paddy. But in some districts of the country, the yield of rainfed coarse cereals is better than that of paddy. That is why the cultivation of coarse cereals is the need of the hour for climate adaptation and increasing grain production.
Farmers have been suffering for centuries due to natural calamities like floods and droughts. Although earlier their impact was more visible at the regional level, the impact of climate change has been so widespread over the past half century that it is affecting every farmer in the country, all crop cycles, yields and food security. That is why agricultural scientists recommend to protect against climate change, where farmers should adopt coarse cereals instead of traditional paddy and wheat cultivation, the public should also give more importance to coarse grains in their plate.
Coarse grain farming
Coarse cereals have also been called alternative grains. Other than wheat and paddy, the rest of the grains are traditionally called coarse grains such as millet, maize, ragi, kodon, barley and jowar etc. Except for maize and barley, most of the coarse cereals grown in Rabi are rain-fed Kharif crops. Traditionally, their production in the country is rain-fed. Coarse grains are rich in nutrients. These crops have a high ability to tolerate the effects of climate change. That is why the decline in the yield of coarse cereals is very less even under unfavourable farming conditions.
According to experts from the Eastern Research Complex of ICAR Pusa, Patna, the yield of coarse cereals is generally lower than that of paddy. However, in some districts of the country, coarse cereals perform better than paddy in rainfed farming. For example, bajra and jowar in central India and maize in many parts of the country. This means increasing the area under coarse cereals is essential for climate adaptation and increasing grain production.
Coarse grains are rich in nutrients, but as the production of wheat and paddy increased under the Green Revolution, coarse cereal dishes from Indian plates declined. This is the reason that the per capita consumption of coarse cereals in the country has been declining day by day. It is a different matter that in recent years it has been explained to the people by doctors and nutritionists that the role of coarse cereals in good health and prevention of malnutrition is unmatched.
Characteristics of coarse grains
Ragi: It is an excellent source of various minerals like calcium, iron, protein, fibres etc. It also has medicinal use. It is beneficial for diabetic patients. 3.9 milligrams of iron and 344 milligrams of calcium is found in per 100 grams of ragi. Such availability of iron is more than other cereals except millet.
Millet: Bajra contains 11 to 12 percent protein, 5 percent fat, 67 percent carbohydrates, 2.7 percent mineral salts, 8 percent iron and 132 micro grams of carotene. Its consumption has been found to be extremely useful for protecting the eyes. Bajra is also used as fodder in some areas of the country. In addition to vitamin ‘B’, there are plenty of minerals like potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. That is why the place of millet has been found to be better than rice and wheat in terms of nutritional capacity.
Jowar: Rich in fibres, jowar is the 5th most important cereal grown in the world. It is a great option for reducing weight and improving digestion by removing constipation. The calcium present in it provides strength to the bones, while copper and iron are helpful in increasing the number of red blood cells in the body and removing anaemia. The consumption of jowar has been found to be extremely beneficial for women during pregnancy and post-delivery days.
Maize: It is a coarse grain, rich in vitamin ‘A’, folic acid and carbohydrates. It is very beneficial for heart patients. It contains many antioxidants. The antioxidants content of cooked corn is up to 50 percent higher. It controls the level of bad cholesterol. Pregnant women must include maize in their diet. It helps cure anaemia and keeps the foetus healthy. However, people trying to lose weight should avoid it, because the consumption of corn is helpful in increasing weight.
Kodon: It is considered an ancient food. It also contains some amount of fat and protein. The glycemic index of Kodas is low, so diabetic patients are advised to consume Kodas instead of rice. Its cultivation is mainly done in the tribal dominated areas of Chhattisgarh.
Barley: Barley is mainly cultivated in the unirrigated areas of Bihar. Barley contains more alcohol than any other grain. It is rich in fibres, antioxidants and magnesium. Consumption of barley is very beneficial for those people who are affected by high blood pressure. The consumption of barley also helps in reducing the increased cholesterol.
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