Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thailand Tamils dish out millet menu to aid starving TN farmers

Jun 23 2017 : The Times of India (Chennai)
Thailand Tamils dish out millet menu to aid starving TN farmers

Tamil Diaspora Sources Millets From TN Farmers, Promotes Its Use In Southeast Asia
Farmers in Tamil Nadu who are struggling for survival may now receive a helping hand. That too, from their own countrymen living abroad. A group of Tamils settled in Thailand have launched an initiative that will not only help the farmers here but will also create more awareness about the benefits of millets.Spearheading the initiative `Save Farmer' is D Devadas, president of the Thailand Tamil Association. “If we promote millets, we will benefit doubly . Millets are good for health and if more people begin consuming millets, small and marginal farmers will benefit as millets need very little water to grow and can be cultivated on unirrigated lands,“ said Devadas, at a get-together held in Bangkok last weekend. With less water being used for cultivation, there will be more availability of safe drinking water, he added.
Detailing their plans, Kamaraj Viswagandhi, who works with an MNC in Bangkok said that at present middlemen eat into the profits of farmers. “A product that a farmer sells for `3 reaches the end-consumer at over `25. Through our plan, we are directly reaching out to the farmer with the help of some NGOs,“ he said.
The group will be procuring their first set of grains from Chittilingi gramam in Tamil Nadu. Farmers of this village, which has a population of 1,800, practice organic farming. The village also has women entrepreneurs who sell their grains through a farmers' producer company .
“This initiative can be expanded to benefit entire south India and later the whole country by procuring millets from all the states. We are also tying up with interested Tamil associations in other countries so that millets are directly procured from the farm ers in TN, without involving middlemen,“ said Devadas, also the CEO of the Saraff Global group in Bangkok. “Tamil associations in Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore are now a part of our initiative. Our Tamil friends settled in these countries will buy the grains from farmers we have tied up with, whenever they visit Tamil Nadu.Apart from self-consumption they'll encourage other families to adapt this strategy. This will create a multiplier effect. It's an informal start, albeit small,“ he added.
The plan is to stock more grains in the next few months and make it available to the expat community in Thailand through yoga, pranic healing and sports centres.“Right now we are planning to connect to all Tamil Federations across Asia,“ said Devadas.
At the event in Bangkok, which was attended by about 200 people, Coimbatorebased `Nallasoru' Rajamurugan, who has authored several books on healthy food made from millets, captured the audience's attention, giving a live demo, making kelvaragu halwa, thinai payasam and kambu upma. The volunteers also sold about 30kg of millets during the event to the attendees.
Elucidating some of the health benefits of millets, Dr Sivaraman, a Chennai-based Siddha doctor, said that even health-conscious youngsters and people who regularly work out are not spared from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and blood pressure.“This is due to an increased consumption of refined flour (maida) and polished rice.A switch to healthier options is paramount.Traditionally grown rice like kulkakru, kowni and black rice have immense medicinal and therapeutic properties. The difference in taste is only marginal and it can have a huge impact on health.
(The author is a former journalist)

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