Dwiddly

My notes and musings …

Down but not out – fallen millet plants rise up to the sky

with one comment

A few weeks ago, we visited some millet farmers in the Sitapur Dt. of Uttar Pradesh. We came across a barnyard millet (साँव़ा) field in Aanth (आँट) where the plants had fallen due to a combination of too much water and wind. Strong vegetative growth of these plants to more than 7′ had raised the family’s hopes of being able to get a bumper harvest. It was more than a week since the incident and they had resigned to their fate that the grains that were still in the filling stage would now rot.

A barnyard millet field in Aanth, Sitapur Dt., U.P. The plants in front of the farmer, Rakesh, had fallen about a week before we visited. A few sorghum plants also seen in the field.

A barnyard millet field in Aanth, Sitapur Dt., U.P. The plants in front of the farmer, Rakesh, had fallen about a week before we visited. A few sorghum plants also seen in the field.

Wheat is the main crop in this region. A fallen wheat plant leads to reduced harvest due to various reasons. Coming from this experience the fallen Barnyard crop was also interpreted as a slash on the quantity and quality of the harvest.

But as I suspected, what we saw in the field was a totally different story. There are two things that almost all millet plants do when they fall. One : they push in new roots from their nodes that are close to the ground. And two: they start growing their apex, and hence the panicle, back to a vertical position. These are two of the many amazing things that makes millets special. A weak stalk and insufficiently developed root system cannot fill the grains in the panicles. So an adverse condition (strong winds) leading to a compromised state (having fallen down) appears to be turned into an advantage by exploiting the proximity to the ground to push in new roots and revitalize the plant ! A self correcting system, eh? 🙂

In pursuit of food security and sovereignty, we traded such hardy crops for such sensitive and input / care intensity crops like wheat and paddy!

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Written by Dwiji

Friday, October 23rd, 2015 at 17:54

Posted in Millets

One Response

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  1. SO much we can learn from the hardy millet!

    Like

    Ask Amma

    Monday, October 26th, 2015 at 20:58


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