Finger millet or ragi also commonly known as nachani is one of the healthiest grain available for consumption. Demand for ragi is steadily increasing as the grain is the latest fad among dieticians and fitness buffs for its ‘super cereal’ qualities. Once known as a humble grain and largely eaten by the working class, ragi demand is picked up significantly in urban markets where the cereal is attractively packaged and sold at a premium.
In Goa however, local farmers are giving ragi the pass despite the revival of its market. Rich in nutrition ragi is been an intrinsic part of the diet of residents. Presently most of the ragi consumed in the state comes from outside. And what is depressing is that, even the small quantity cultivated by local farmers is decreasing. The trend in cultivation shows that the volume of production is falling by the day. Most farmers use their production for self consumption and locally grown ragi is hardly available in markets.
A whole grain, ragi is known for its nutritional value and health benefits. It was once commonly cultivated in several villages of the state. However during the last couple of years the production of ragi has decreased as farmers are moving out of the ragi cultivation.
According to the information available from the sources, the production of ragi in the state of Goa during the year 2012-13 was 51 tons while estimated area under ragi cultivation was 49 hectares, while in the year 2013-14 the production decreased 14 tons while the estimated area under the ragi cultivation also decreased to 18 hectares and in the year 2014 – 15 the production further came down to 10 tons and the estimated area under the ragi cultivation also further decreased to 15 hectares in the year 2014-15. With the meager quantity of cultivation, it looks like the directorate of agriculture, Krishi Bhavan, Tonca has stopped tabulating ragi production.
Ragi is currently priced at around Rs 200 to 280 per kudo, a traditional measurement system. It may be noted that one kudo is approximately 6 kgs, which come approximately Rs 35 to 45 a kg. However it is difficult to get locally produced ragi in sufficient quantities and so people buy ragi which comes from outside the state.
The cereal is one of the most nutritious food which is rich in calcium and protein. It also has good amount of iron and other minerals. Ragi is also has high fibre content as compared to white rice which aids in digestion, prevents overeating and makes you feel full for a longer span of time.
According to some farmers they are not going for cultivation of Ragi as it requires hard work and even after hard work wild animals damage the crops causing loss to the farmers. Most grain farmers in the state are switching to vegetable cultivation as it is easier to cultivate and considered to be economically viable than growing grains.
“We have to put in hard work for ragi cultivation and labourers are required. It is difficult to get labourers these days. They are costly and after doing all the hard work there is no guarantee that we will get good yield as the wildlife cause damage to the crop. Earlier all the family members were at home and so they used to help in cultivation, however now youngsters go for jobs and they don’t get time for helping us in cultivation of ragi,” said a farmer Lata from Pernem taluka.
While another farmer said that earlier most of the people in the state used to use ragi as part of their daily intake, however the new generation is not much interested in eating ragi. Moreover ragi coming from outside the state is easily available in the market which has affected the production of local ragi.
A shopkeeper who sells ragi said that most of it comes from outside Goa as the production done by the farmers in the state is generally not on very large scale and several state farmers use their crop for self consumption.