Home Inspirational How Lenovo Used Expertise to Revive the Misplaced Millets of a Kerala Village

How Lenovo Used Expertise to Revive the Misplaced Millets of a Kerala Village

How Lenovo Used Expertise to Revive the Misplaced Millets of a Kerala Village


This text is printed in collaboration with Lenovo India

When Kanthalloor Grama Panchayat President P T Mohandas was campaigning for elections in 2020, he noticed enormous sacks mendacity in a number of households. On inquiry, he discovered that every of the tribal households there had virtually 500 to 1,000 kg of finger millet (ragi) mendacity unused. Motive — they didn’t know the way to promote it and used this superfood solely for self-consumption.

One thing needed to be achieved, thought Mohandas.

Whereas he started in search of methods to promote the excess ragi and uplift the villagers’ livelihoods, Lenovo was additionally exploring methods to combine know-how for farmers’ welfare and promote the cultivation of millets in Kanthalloor.


Kanthalloor was as soon as house to over 18 forms of millet, in accordance with farmers. However over the previous 20 years, as individuals shifted in the direction of consuming extra rice and wheat, millet consumption steadily diminished and so did its cultivation. The village misplaced its various number of millet and the quantity got here down from 18 to simply two.

Lenovo launched into a mission to revive millet cultivation within the Idukki district and assist farmers flourish via the help of know-how. By means of its ‘Work for Humankind’ initiative, the volunteers have helped reinstate some misplaced millets, bringing the millet selection to 6.

As well as, it has arrange a digital centre, labored on the branding and advertising of the millets, and arrange a processing unit — all to assist Kanthalloor’s farmers restore its generational millet glory.

Because of this, over the previous yr, about 1,800 kg of six forms of millet — together with finger millet, barnyard millet, little millet, foxtail millet, proso millet, and kodo millet — have been cultivated by 25 farmers on 15 acres of land within the village. This harvest has additionally been processed and packaged, and might be bought via the varied channels. The farmers hail this initiative and hope that it will likely be a harbinger of a greater tomorrow.

A human-centric innovation

Farmers were earlier growing millets only for self-consumption
Farmers have been earlier rising millets just for self-consumption.

Kanthalloor, a village surrounded by the Western Ghats in Kerala’s Idukki district, was a hub for millets, cultivating practically 18 varieties till three a long time in the past. Nonetheless, its proximity to the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary poses a problem for farmers as a result of animals like boars and elephants damaging their millet crops.

As consumerism grew and the sale of rice elevated, the demand for millets declined. This too affected the tribal neighborhood residing within the forest, missing entry to a correct marketplace for their produce.

In gentle of 2023 being the ‘Worldwide Yr of the Millet’, Lenovo aimed to revive this conventional superfood in Kanthalloor, as shared by Pratima Harite, Head of Asia Pacific CSR & Philanthropy at Lenovo Basis.

With an thought to mobilise the neighborhood utilizing know-how, Lenovo first surveyed 227 households within the grama panchayat. They discovered that over 60 p.c of households cultivated millet solely in a small portion of their land i.e. under 20 cents. This was not the case earlier, in accordance with Mohandas, who states that over 60 p.c of the land was used to domesticate millets a couple of a long time in the past.

“We wished to assist these farmers return to their roots and begin cultivating millets once more, this time empowered with the assistance of know-how, coaching and advertising. We consider that good know-how options have the ability to remodel communities and revive misplaced traditions. This know-how would additionally assist the youthful technology take the knowledge ahead of their households,” Pratima tells The Higher India.

Lenovo, via its ‘Work for Humankind’ initiative has partnered with Dream India Community — a non-profit organisation engaged on the bottom — because the implementation accomplice; the Grama Panchayat for eco-tourism and farmer engagement; IHRD Faculty for Utilized Sciences, Kanthalloor, for establishing their know-how centre; and Samudra Community and Agri app as their digital integration accomplice.

The primary exercise that Lenovo undertook with the assistance of Dream India Community, was to decide on 25 farmers — 16 of whom are ladies — from 5 wards and persuade them to sow millets in a portion of their land. They got good-quality seeds and taught other ways to revive the crop.

“These farmers have been already rising ragi for self-consumption. We requested them to strive rising any of the opposite 5 varieties in 50 cents of their unused land by instilling confidence that we’d promote it. For the reason that land was already used for millet cultivation earlier, there could be no drawback. Moreover, millets develop in low-fertility soils and don’t even want an excessive amount of water. They simply want well timed rain to get a superb harvest,” explains Dr Saju Parackal, CEO, Dream India Community.

Utilizing tech to revive traditions

IHRD College students volunteer alongside Lenovo volunteers oversee the Tech Centre.
IHRD Faculty college students volunteer alongside Lenovo volunteers to supervise the tech centre.

Lenovo then obtained on to arrange the ‘Lenovo Digital Centre for Kanthalloor Millets’ at IHRD Faculty of Utilized Science. This hub, outfitted with Lenovo’s gadgets shops knowledge and facilitates info sharing. It organises actions participating younger individuals, helps farmers in exchanging insights, and shares info on Authorities programmes like crop insurance coverage, diversification schemes, and subsidies.

IHRD Faculty college students volunteer alongside Lenovo volunteers oversee the Tech Centre. Moreover, Lenovo offered farmers with Motorola cellphones containing agricultural apps linked to the Samudra Community and Agri App to watch their crops.

Subsequent, a processing centre was established to course of, model and promote the harvested millets. It’s managed by a self-help group of six ladies from Kudumbashree unit from Kanthalloor. The millets at the moment are referred to as ‘Kanthalloor millets’ and can be found in over 50 homestays within the village, with plans to promote them on-line quickly.

This initiative has supplied a steady earnings for these ladies, who beforehand labored as contract labourers with out constant jobs.

“We wished to create direct market linkages for the farmers whereas slicing down middlemen. Presently, the farmers promote unfastened produce at native shops and aren’t conscious of the avenues the place they’ll promote. So we’ve got created this model [Kanthalloor Millets] and proven them methods to promote to develop into self-reliant,” says Pratima, including that the millet may even be a part of the mid-day meal programmes on the anganwadis.

This yr, Kanthalloor obtained the ‘Finest Rural Tourism Village Gold Award’ from the Union Authorities. With greater than 250 homestays, the village attracts many guests on weekends. Millet kiosks might be arrange at every homestay, serving as each gross sales factors and seed banks for Kanthalloor Millets.

Millet kiosks will be set up at each homestay, serving as both sales points and seed banks for Kanthalloor Millets.
Millet kiosks might be arrange at every homestay in Kanthalloor.

Dr Parackal says they’re creating linkages with exporters to promote millets as soon as the yield will increase and are additionally working with the Kerala Authorities’s agriculture division to widen the processing unit.

Radhakrishnan, a farmer who’s a part of the programme and former president of Devikulam block panchayat, expressed happiness on the initiative. “That is our conventional meals; we’ve got began consuming unhealthy meals solely over the previous 30 years. It got here to a scenario the place we didn’t even have good-quality seeds to sow. Lenovo helped us supply good high quality seeds, which have helped us get a superb harvest. We’re hopeful of a good higher yield within the coming months,” he says.

The preliminary harvest produced greater than 1,800 kg, as reported by the corporate. Inspired by this success, they plan to contain 25 further farmers, every with an acre, increasing millet cultivation to cowl 75 acres of land.

Lenovo volunteers helped collect knowledge and analyse the influence of options, serving to farmers entry the mandatory apps, and constructing consciousness for market linkages. They’re additionally offering digital entry to info on Authorities programmes and millet cultivation strategies to the farmers.

In the meantime, Mohandas informs that he’s boosting the manufacturing of millet by giving subsidies to 124 farmers from subsequent yr. Kannamma Gopalan, one of many 25 farmers who noticed a superb yield, hopes that that is the start of a path in the direction of progress for the villagers.

“This would possibly push the kids to take an curiosity in farming. It’s additionally a significant step in the direction of progress for us,” she says.

Edited by Pranita Bhat



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