Bengaluru, Jan 21 (IANS): Thousands of people, including women and children, flocked to the International Trade Fair on Organics and Millets, wherein Karnataka is promoting the grain as a "smart food" for health and to help farmers reap monetary benefits.
"We are expecting at least two lakh visitors at the fair from January 19 to 21," Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda told IANS at the fair at the sprawling Palace Grounds here.
Organised by the Agriculture Department, the fest showcased organic and sustainable crops and products from states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Chhattisgarh.
"The state government has allocated Rs 10 crore for a year-long campaign on raising awareness on millets, which has also been used for the trade fair," Gowda said.
Millets are used both as fodder and for human consumption. The grain, capable of high yield and having a short growing season, can grow even in severely dry regions.
Hailed as a "miracle crop", millets once formed a large part of Indian farms and diets.
Visitors attended sessions on health benefits of millets, visited hundreds of stalls set up by firms and farmer cooperatives from India as well as those from Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, China, and Malaysia.
Several technologies on millet-processing developed by start-ups in the country and abroad were also showcased.
The state government recognised the efforts of farming communities from across the country through "Jaivik India Awards".
Karnataka has urged the central government to designate 2018 as the "Year of Millets" to promote the crop in the country.
"We want Indian millets to be found in the best malls of the US and take the crop to every part of the world," asserted Agriculture Secretary S.K. Pattanayak.
Several retailers like MTR Foods, Mother India Agro Foods, Big Basket, and Nature-Bio Foods participated in the fair.