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There are about 100 farmers cultivating chia in Karnataka on around 100 acres and the land under acreage is expected to go up to 500 acres soon.A few years ago, farmers in the area had been invited to a seminar at CFTRI where they were told about the chia seeds. He took the lead in forming Raitha Mitra Farmers Producers Company, which buys and trades chia seeds.This year we are planning four to five districts,” he says.A farmer would make more than double cultivating chia than he would a regular staple like rice, says Shanthakumar. We are selling for Rs 22,500 after cleaning and processing. If he were to cultivate rice instead, he would make less than Rs 35,000-40,000,” he says.I was looking for a plant that would have a functionality that can spread on both ends—bread making and regular rice type.This grain has that property.” There was also a more emotional motivation because both teff and ragi are from Ethiopia.
Now we wanted an Ethiopian plant again to be housed in Karnataka,” he says.In , archaeologist Purushottam Singh also writes , ‘Perhaps the earliest history of ragi comes from Hallur in Karnataka, dating to approximately 2300 BC.’ It is in Karnataka that even now the largest quantity of ragi is produced. It has its origins in Africa and is also now the inspiration for another foreign grain called teff being sought to be made Indian by the Mysuru-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), a government body which does extensive research on food science that often overlaps with a social objective like providing nutrition to people.For example, on 5 July, an ice cream enriched with omega 3 and vitamin E called Nutri Ice developed by CFTRI was launched by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant.In fields near forest areas, wild animals often damage the crops when they come foraging.But they leave the chia and quinoa fields alone, possibly sensing that it is an alien crop.
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