A small farmer named Shivappa from a village called Bidarahalli of Mysore district is praying to make some decent returns from his chia seeds, which he had planted on his land of 1.5 acres. The Mysuru-based Raitha Mithra has assured him a buy-back price of Rs.22,500 per quintal. This step taken by the Farmer Producer Company would help farmers grow a lot of chia seeds in their region.
Chia seeds are very rich in protein, Omega -3 fat content, and fiber. Due to this, it has gained lot of attractions amongst the farmers of Mysuru, especially in the Heggada Devana Kote taluk. Along with the recent global survey, it is also seen that the Omega-3 deficiency rate is high in India. So, growing Chia seeds in India would really help Indians overcome the Omega-3 deficiency.
Chia seeds are also helping the framers of Mysuru gain a lot of profit. According to the Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI) of Mysuru, through the Raitha Mitra it has also found out that the farmers are making profits, which are double the profit they used to earn by growing ragi.
Comparing Chia and Ragi
When Shivappa was interviewed he said – “I am expecting a yield of at least three quintals per acre this year.” This is double the ragi yield that they used to produce a couple of years ago. Shivappa also adds that he had made Rs.8,000 per quintal by growing chia seeds last year and is expecting to earn double of what he got last year.
Farmers harvest about 8-10 quintals per acre of ragi and the cultivation cost of it would be Rs.15,000. Similarly, for chia, it would cost Rs.15,000/acre for cultivation and the yield would be only 3 quintals an acre. However, Chia fetches them Rs.22,500 per quintal, whereas ragi earns Rs.2,500.
The white chia seeds are priced as premium as they blends with the Indian food products. There are many chia-blended products, which are developed by CFRTI such as chocolates, ice-creams and jams. These are already commercialized by many companies.
The Director of CFRTI, Ram Rajashekaran says that Chia is the best vegetarian and alternative source of Omega-3 and they are trying to introduce many products by blending chia seeds. He also added – “My main aim is to push chia into mid-day meal programs and we are in discussions with several States.”
Both the black and white chia seeds are the major interest of growth amongst the farmers due to the lower cultivation costs, high returns, short duration of 90 days, less water consumption, and largely untouched by animals and pests.
Along with so many benefits, after Raitha Mithra stepped in they are not facing any marketing issues, which they used to face earlier. So, growing chia seeds have helped the farmers to a great extent.
Marketing the Seeds
The white chia seeds are being supplied to the farmers from the CFTRI from past 2 years through the Raitha Mitra. “Prior to that farmer in the region already had access to the black variety through various means. Farmers have been growing chia seeds for the past four years and faced huge challenges in processing and marketing this exotic seed, which originated from Mexico. But when we stepped in, we assured a buyback for the growers, providing a higher price,” said Kurubur Shantkumar who is the Chairman of Raitha Mitra FPO.
Currently, Raitha Mithra has provided seeds to almost 80 farmers in the region of Mysuru. They are restricting the distribution of seeds, though there is a lot of interest among the farmers. This is because they feel that the large production would in turn result in glut and give rise to many marketing challenges, feels the Chairman of Raitha Mitra FPO, Kurubur Shantkumar