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Odisha Millet Mission

Framework for India’s Sustainable Agriculture Initiatives

Odisha Millet Mission Case Study

Organisation of the case study

This case study is a complementary document for the scalability framework. It provides a detailed account of how certain programmes scaled up and sustained in the long run. The anecdotal evidence of the success factors given here form the basis of the scalability framework. An overview of each phase’s activities and success factors is presented in this case study. We have identified three phases for the programme, and each consecutive phase depicts either a shift or expansion in solutions, involvement of different stakeholders, and a variation in scale. The success factors are directly applied from the scalability framework without modifications. Please refer to the framework for theoretical clarity on terminologies.

Core success factors

The core success factors that enable scale, replication, and sustenance are as follows:

About Odisha Millet Mission

The Special Programme for Promotion of Millets in Tribal Areas of Odisha originated from the Comprehensive Malkangiri Pilot of the Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network (RRAN). The programme was implemented in 2012, in collaboration with the Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN), to revive millets in farms and on plates in rainfed areas of Odisha. It successfully created a proof of concept for farmers to grow millets—hardy, drought-resistant crops suited to Odisha’s climate—to improve farm productivity and profitability and create community buy-in. It also introduced millet-based snacks in Malkangiri schools. In phase 2, in 2015, District Collector M. Muthukumar, IAS, came on board and the district government supported the programme financially and technically, while RRAN secured administrative funds for its field team. By 2017, the beginning of phase 3, the programme was fully nested under state funds and implemented across Odisha. It was institutionalised under state nutrition schemes, and the PDS, to encourage further millet production. It became known as the Odisha Millet Mission (OMM).

Odisha Millet Mission and Millets Production

Phase 1: Pilot phase

The millet programme started as a pilot under the existing RRAN Malkangiri project. Though the latter’s focus was wider than just millets, this case study only covers details relevant to OMM’s fruition. The programme started in four blocks in Malkangiri. The ground partners—Partivartan and WASSAN— anchored the pilot by leveraging their expertise and their connections with the community, while the Ford Foundation provided financial support. RRAN and WASSAN engaged farmers closely to build a strong proof of concept for the community, the gram panchayat, and the block level officers. The programme brought back traditional crops in a feasible and impactful manner, and its uniqueness in Odisha created buy-in of the local government.

Timeline: 2012–2015

Scale: Four blocks—Kalimela, Mathili, K. Gumma, Chitrakonda in Malkangiri, Odisha

Key Drivers: WASSAN and Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network

Key activities

Programme design

  • Developing ground partnerships: RRAN approached this programme by tapping into local networks. It partnered with NGOs with aligned interests, existing expertise, community outreach, and a good relationship with local government officials. The ground partner WASSAN was responsible for the programme design, technical implementation, and communicating with key community figures, officials from the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), and block level officers.

  • Sharing decision-making with key partners: RRAN ensured that decisions could be taken democratically by the partners to respond dynamically to the needs of the community.

  • Intervening along the value chain: Partners had to build consumer demand for millets, as farmers required a well-established market for crops. Millet consumption had eroded over the years. To revive it, partners first revived the community’s cultural links to millets. They introduced millet snacks in state-run schools and welfare hostels, which proved accessible for the programme. They fixed menus after consulting the children in the hostels and trained chefs in millet recipes. Through the hostels, millet-based foods started reaching 4,000 children.

Community engagement

  • Finding community champions: WASSAN engaged some progressive farmers, who they had worked with over the years, to be community champions. Some farmers already produced millets for consumption, and the programme used their work to showcase to the community the scope of their interventions for enhancing farm productivity. WASSAN also gave these champions technical training and guidance to adopt non-chemical millet production. The proof of concept that emerged from these farmers’ work greatly influenced the rest of the community.

  • Aligning activities with community needs: A key intervention was procuring locally suited, good-quality millet seeds. Research indicated that farmers preferred well-performing local varieties for their taste and resilience. RRAN and WASSAN first identified such seeds among the government released varieties. They then created seed centres through the existing farmer producer organisations (FPOs) in RRAN’s network for their multiplication and distribution. In addition, they had community members visit the farms of champions to show the feasibility of both growing millets and transitioning to non-chemical farming techniques, which improved soil fertility and farm biodiversity in the long run. This peer-to-peer knowledge dissemination was fundamental in encouraging farmers to transition to millets.

  • Developing community resource persons (CRPs): CRPs disseminated knowledge and information, in addition to mobilising the community. They provided administrative support to the programme by monitoring and collecting data from farms. WASSAN engaged their existing CRPs to support and fulfil the programme goals. The CRPs were trained at the village level by appropriate organisations in the network.

  • Partnership with key resource institutions: Farmer collectives such as FPOs and women-led self-help groups (SHG) provided key support services. WASSAN partnered with existing FPOs to set up seed banks and custom hiring centres (CHCs). SHGs facilitated a trustworthy market for the millet crop. They procured finger millets, or ragi, and groundnut from farmers and/or weekly markets, processed the ragi, sold it to concerned hostels and directly collected the payments.

  • Keeping solutions aligned with the principles: The programme promoted nature-positive methods of crop production, root intensification, intercropping, and use of bio-inputs. To allow for scale, local SHGs were trained to prepare bio-inputs to sell to farmers. Farmers who struggled to make timely payments for bio-inputs could pay in-kind, such as giving part of their harvest.

Government engagement

  • Enabling and expanding government buyin: : It was crucial to gain the District Collector’s official support to build proof of concept and scale up government engagement. Partners used their existing ties with the local officials to engage the District Collector over six months through field visits and multiple meetings. They strategically aligned the programme’s unique nature and its impact in farming communities with the government’s Key Performance Index (KPI). This, along with the relevance of millets—a nutritionally complex, hardy, drought-resistant crop that can grow in rainwater —for Odisha, encouraged government buy-in.

  • Aligning with department goals to promote millets: RRAN and WASSAN also aligned the programme with ongoing government work. Odisha’s Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment had a dedicated area for millet cultivation under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), which proved useful for programme implementation. Significantly, the District Collector supported the introduction of millet snacks to schools an d hostels under the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA).


  • Partnering with the right funding sources: WASSAN provided programmatic and technical funds for its field team, enough to cover administrative cost, capacity building, and engaging with a small group of farmers to build proof of concept. The ITDA provided a limited amount specifically to procure ingredients for producing millet-based foods.

Success factors

Sustained leadership in the driving organisation

  • Sustained value proposition for the leadership: RRAN selected on-the-ground partners, like WASSAN, who closely aligned with the programme mission and vision, to effectively engage key stakeholders.

  • Enable alignment between leaders, staff, and collaborators: It was crucial for RRAN to communicate effectively with partners to build networks, maximise their capacities, and ensure delivery of programme goals.

Sync between the solution and the enabling environment

  • Bring suitable change to the enabling environment: : Partners ensured that interventions were done at multiple points across the value chain to minimise the risk of failure. They communicated socially and economically relevant success stories to farmers, government officials, students, teachers, and other hostel staff to build and maintain confidence in the programme. By using this systems approach, they also revived consumer demand and built a sustainable market for millets.

Institutionalisation at community level

  • Enable community ownership: The programme created community champions—progressive farmers who took up millet production—to set a precedent for the community, build trust, and respond to their needs of drought-resistant crops, quality seeds, and reliable market. This was fostered by RRAN’s on-the-ground partners, who had an established presence in the community

  • Create and maintain self-governing institutions: By establishing welfare hostels as millet consumers, the programme created functional markets for millet production, monetary benefits for SHGs, and fulfilled the nutritional needs of school-going children. It built and maintained social capital by supporting the SHGs and existing networks of FPOs.

Institutionalisation at government level

  • Enable government ownership: Partners proactively engaged with the local government officials and the District Collector to gain government support by showcasing the programme’s feasibility, uniqueness, and impact on farmer welfare.

  • Enable pathways for government support: Programme staff successfully convinced the local government officials that their goals converged with those of the agriculture department’s under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA).

Financial sustainability

  • Bring funding from diverse sources: RRAN’s network gave them access to multiple sources of and opportunities for funding, including partnering with the ITDA for specific activities.

  • Ensure flexibility in funding: RRAN worked with funders who trusted their leadership to allocate funds as needed and had an appropriate appetite for risk.

Phase 2: Government involvement

The programme was named the Special Programme for Promotion of Millets in the Tribal Areas of Odisha. The phase augmented ground partnerships, government funding, and farmer resources for producing and selling millets. The programme expanded to seven blocks in Malkangiri, as RRAN continued internal reviews to further scale it up. A one-day state level consultation with multiple stakeholders enabled expansion of solutions and pathways of convergence with the government. The solutions included decentralised millet processing units, bio-inputs sales by SHGs, and co-location of the Farmer Resource Centre with the District Collector’s office. From 2014 to 2017, the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI) came on board as a funder. At the end of phase 2, and of philanthropic funding, OMM submitted its proposal for scaling up, supported by the District Collector’s office, to the state

Timeline: 2015–2016

Scale: Seven blocks—Kalimela, Mathili, K. Gumma, Chitrakonda, Korukonda, Khairput, and Podia in Malkangiri, Odisha

Key Drivers: RRAN and district government departments

Key activities

Programme design

  • Creating partnerships to push the programme agenda: Dr Srijit Mishra, the then Director of Nabakrushna Choudhury Center for Development Studies (NCDS), a state government think tank, took a keen interest in the programme. He helped create a programme secretariat, which also worked as a Farmer Resource Centre (FRC), for OMM, colocated with the District Collector’s office. He also supported consultations with multiple stakeholders working on millets, through the hand-over proposal that was to be submitted to the state at the end of the phase.

  • Creating an enabling environment for millet consumption: RRAN, along with government department officials from Agriculture, Women and Child Development, and welfare schools, raised awareness on the nutritional value of millets through campaigns, food festivals, and videos. RRAN introduced millet meals in bakeries, and in addition in welfare hotels and trained their chefs. This created prestige around millet consumption, which was celebrated as promoting local food culture.

Government engagement

  • Systematic, multi-level engagement of government officials: The programme created multiple touchpoints to further government ownership and to involve state officials in cocreating programme pathways. This helped mitigate various risks in implementation, such as lack of trust among government officials, limited human resources, and the limited outreach capacity of government departments. RRAN and WASSAN took various department officials to the field to show the realities and successes of millet production, for them to support the programme better

  • Building an enabling ecosystem with capacities and resources: RRAN instated two key platforms with the government, the Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture (RRA) district committee and the FRC. The committee was chaired by the District Collector and comprised RRAN’s partners, the programme secretariat staff, and the line department heads who were given decision-making powers. Meanwhile, the FRC acted as a one-stop platform for farmer enquiries, helping the programme staff to keep the community engaged.

  • Aligning programme activities with the government schemes: The committee facilitated the implementation of the programme activities through the corresponding government departments. If an activity fell under a pre-existing government scheme, the committee mobilised support for it. If a scheme did not exist, the committee encouraged the secretariat staff to submit proposals, advocating for new schemes, for its approval.

  • Advocacy at the state level: In 2016, RRAN, with the NCDS and the Government of Odisha, organised a one-day multi-stakeholder consultation with CSOs to strategise on reviving millets in the state. They showcased evidence of successful scalability from Karnataka and grassroot impact in Malkangiri to the stakeholders. A plan was chalked out to keep community collectives at the centre of milletrelated initiatives and to set up parallel systems for production, consumption, marketing, and postharvest processing of the crop.

Community engagement

This included setting up of key infrastructure to enable community ownership and self-governance. Additionally, interventions were also built at the consumer community level to revitalise the demand for millets.

  • Promoting millets through indigenous festivals: The programme supported indigenous festivals such as the Burlang Yatra, an annual indigenous seed festival in Odisha’s Kandhamal district, where farmers exchange indigenous heirloom seeds and traditional knowledge among each other. The programme linked its activities with the community’s social and ecological ties to millets, while spreading awareness of agro-biodiversity.

  • Fulfilling service delivery needs of farmers at the block level: New FPOs were created to ensure timely supply of seeds, bio-inputs, aggregation, and marketing of the produce

  • Establishing custom hiring centres (CHCs): CHCs were anchored by FPOs at the block level, and by SHGs at the village level. They hired out equipment to farmers to aid in the increased manual operations of agroecological farming techniques.

  • Using a cluster-based approach: : In line with the consultation takeaways, a CSO was chosen in each block as the facilitating agency that reached out to farmers in a cluster-based approach and demonstrated best practices for millet production.

  • Setting up processing units at the block level: SHGs and FPOs were selected to set up post-harvest SHGs and FPOs were selected to set up post-harvest processing units—threshers, de-stoners, graders, de-hullers, and pulverisers—according to local needs. Initially, when the produce was less, rice hullers were used to process it. These processing units gave farmers the appropriate infrastructure for millet production and consumers access to millet-based foods.


  • Convergence with the government schemes: The programme applied for funds from government schemes for corresponding activities. Where a pre-existing scheme did not exist, proposals were submitted to the RRA district committee to allocate funds appropriately.

  • Attracting funds from philanthropic institutions: APPI funding was operationalised through the RRAN secretariat, from 2014 to 2017. APPI supported administrative and capacity building costs and the demonstration of some programme activities.

Success factors

Sync between the solution and the enabling environment

  • Bring suitable change to the enabling environment: The multi-stakeholder consultation created a way forward for OMM to take on board diverse perspectives, while the awareness campaigns revived millet consumption, incentivising farmers to increase production. The programme could intervene across the value chain by strategically collaborating with the community, the government, and the consumers.

  • Adapt the core solution: The programme encouraged the transition to millet production by co-creating interventions with the community, such as systematised labour, CHCs, and processing units.

Institutionalisation at government level

  • Enable government ownership: The District Collector recommended the programme’s expansion proposal to the state officials. RRAN and WASSAN built trust with government departments through consultations, facilitating the flow of information and showcasing how improved farm yield and incomes aligned with government KPI.

  • Enable pathways for government support: The RRA district committee’s composition enabled it to rope in various government departments to support the programme, while the FRC fostered trust with the farmer community, who started perceiving OMM and the district government as one unit. The programme also sustained dialogues with legislators and the bureaucracy to mitigate the risk from frequent transfer of government officials

Sustained leadership in the driving organisation

  • Sustained value proposition for the leadership: RRAN consistently engaged the government at multiple levels, to advocate for the state buy-in, and to develop the proposal for phase 3.

Institutionalisation at community level

  • Enable community ownership: The programme’s success increased the number of community champions and their access to resources and training. It strengthened relationships with the community by integrating activities with traditional knowledge and creating collaborative solutions.

  • Creating self-governing institutions: The SHG and FPOs became key community organisations supporting the programme through identifying mutual benefits, dividing responsibilities, and setting up crucial infrastructure, such as decentralised processing units, CHCs, seed banks, and bio-input sales.

Financial sustainability

  • Ensure flexibility in funding: Since resources to sustain the community organisations were limited, the programme advocated at multiple levels of the government to ensure adequate funds. Additionally, APPI partnered with RRAN based on aligned agendas, allowing RRAN flexibility in using their funds.

  • Attract funding from diverse sources: The programme staff had a clear understanding of funding sources and existing government schemes they could align their activities with.

Phase 3: Implementation across the state of Odisha

In this phase, the programme was institutionalised by the state government as its flagship scheme, now called the Odisha Millet Mission (OMM). The state took over from RRAN and WASSAN as the driving organisation. It launched the OMM in 2017 in 72 blocks across 14 districts, and scaled it up to 142 blocks across 19 districts by 2022–23. During this time, the millet production in the state increased from 3,333 ha to 53,230 ha. The Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment now functioned as the nodal department, through its Directorate of Agriculture and Food Production. The OMM goals remained increasing household consumption and agro-ecological production of millets, setting up decentralised processing and other infrastructure. This meant marketing millets through FPOs and including millets in the public distribution system (PDS), the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS). The OMM capitalised on the international recognition millets were receiving—independent of the Mission—as a nutritious and agro-ecological crop. Nationally, the Government of India asked all the states to adopt the OMM model to promote millets, pulses, and oilseeds. Internationally, the OMM was awarded the United Nations’ International Fund for Agriculture Development and the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) support for promoting agroecological initiatives.

Timeline: 2017–Present

Scale: 142 blocks, 19 districts, Odisha

Key Drivers: Government of Odisha

Key activities

Programme design

  • Formalising leadership under the state government: The Government of Odisha took over from RRAN and WASSAN as the driving agency, formally launching the OMM. A High-Power Committee for Mission on Millets oversaw the programme, while the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) served as its district management agency. RRAN and WASSAN had created sustainable leadership, at the community and departmental levels, to work with the state, and the programme continued according to its established values.

  • Expanding the existing linkage: The government established continuity with previous phases, maintaining activities and building on traditional knowledge systems. The NCDS and WASSAN have continued supporting OMM through research and development.

  • Partner expertise: The government partnered with the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) and with the University of Cambridge to create a knowledge repository on SHG- and FPO-led value chains, among others. It partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) to develop policy briefs and other significant literature to facilitate millet-focussed policy dialogues.

  • Consumer awareness programmes: The programme supports cooking competitions and food festivals for local millet-based foods and provides ready-to-eat millet-based foods to mothers and school students while educating them on the nutritional value of these meals. It also converged with campaigns under the National Nutrition Mission (NNM) to promote household-level consumption of millets.

Government engagement

  • Expanding and converging OMM with aligned schemes: OMM works closely with other government schemes and departments to expand millet production and achieve socioeconomic and agro-biodiversity goals. It signed a formal agreement with the state Mission Shakti Department to have women collectives operate millet cafes, processing units, and other value addition units.

  • Direct benefit transfer (DBT): Through DBT, the OMM offers direct subsidy transfer to farmers for three years to incentivise millet production and adoption of improved agronomic practices.

  • Government food security schemes: The state government institutionalised millet procurement through food security schemes. Through the PDS, the government distributes one kilogram of minor millets, such as ragi, per household. It continued with, and expanded on, the phase 1 integration with the ICDS, where ragi snacks had reached around 0.12 million children and also made millet snacks part of school midday meals. Additionally, in FY 2019–20, the state sanctioned INR 53,296.2 million of its OMM funding to raise the MSP for ragi from INR 6 to INR 29.

Community engagement

  • Formalising procurement through FPOs: The Odisha government formally recognised FPOs as block-level ragi procurement agencies, thanks to their technical and marketing skills, setting a precedent for the state government procuring from FPOs.

  • Peer learning: The OMM has maintained the farmer peer-to-peer networks by training progressive farmers and other young persons in different skills.

  • Market access: The government has created millet hubs, linked to local and nearby urban areas, to improve market access for millets.

  • Co-creating knowledge and expanding supply support for producers: The government-run Centre for Excellence for Agroecology and Agrobiodiversity builds participatory research with local farming communities to document and expand agroecological systems. Additionally, it is a producer and supplier of diverse endemic seed varieties that are channelled through communitymanaged seed systems.


  • Takeover by the Government of Odisha: The state secured funds for OMM through convergence between its Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, the Tribal Development Co-operative Corporation of Odisha Ltd, and the Food, Supplies and Consumer Welfare Department, among others.

Success factors

Sustained leadership in the driving organisation

  • Sustained value proposition for the leadership: As the Government of Odisha took over OMM, it internalised the programme’s value proposition and continued to scale up its impact across the state.

Institutionalisation at government level

  • Enable pathways for government support: Through consistent advocacy, OMM bridged policy gaps and enhanced safety nets for farmers to mainstream millet production, processing, and consumption. Its dedicated implementation body, the ATMA, facilitated new partnerships and expanded existing ones to enhance the scope of resources and of institutional convergence.

Sync between the solution and the enabling environment

  • Bring suitable change to the enabling environment: OMM expanded its knowledge repository, and outreach, through research-based partnerships with national and international institutions. The state government absorbed and built up the existing linkages, and the community organisation led the value chain and the consumer base for millets. Its success created a demand for similar missions in other states by their district collectors.

Institutionalisation at community level

  • Create and maintain self-governing institutions: To successfully decentralise the OMM, the state capacitated FPOs as the implementing bodies. FPOs have key insights into emerging needs and challenges of farmers and can contribute to suitable policy change in governance. Additionally, the SHGs ensured millet consumption at a local level, and promoted it across the programme landscape.

Financial sustainability

  • Bring funding from diverse sources: Convergence with existing schemes and government departments maximised the efficiency of public fund utilisation.


Virtual interview, Bindu Mohanty, senior coordinator (research and partnerships), RRAN, conducted over Zoom. 2021, 2022.

Virtual interview, Dinesh Balam, associate director, WASSAN, conducted over Zoom. 2021, 2022.

Virtual interview, Ramani Ranjan Nayak, former regional coordinator, OMM, conducted over Zoom. 2021, 2022.


Binswanger-Mkhize, Hans P., Jacomina P. de Regt, and Stephen Spector. 2009. “Scaling up Local and Community Driven DevelopGarg, S., Muthukumar, M., Balam, D., and Mohanty, B. 2022. “Odisha Millet Mission: A transformative food system for mainstreaming sustainable diets.” In Routledge Handbook on Sustainable Diets, edited by Kathleen Kevany and Paolo Prosperi. London: Routledge.

Mishra, S. 2019. Ragi Procurement in Odisha: Strengthening the Farm to Plate Initiative. Policy Brief 11. Bhubaneswar, India: Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies (NCDS).https://ncds.nic.in/?q=node/462.

Sengupta, Aditi, United Nations, and World Wide Media. 2022. “Odisha Millets Mission—Sowing Seeds of Change.” UN India Digital Library https://india.un.org/en/192879-odisha-millets-mission-sowing-seeds-change..

Yadav, Anamika. 2022. “Millet Might: Here is How Odisha Can Succeed in Reviving These Cereals Lost to the Green Revolution.” Down To Earth, October 11, 2022. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/agriculture/millet-might-here-is-how-odisha-can-succeed-in-reviving-these-cereals-lost-to-the-green-revolution-85263


APPI Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives
ATMA Agricultural Technology Management Agency
CRIDA Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture
CSO civil society organisation
FPO farmer producer organisation
FRC Farmer Resource Center
ICDS Integrated Child Development Scheme
ITDA Integrated Tribal Development Agency
KVK Krishi Vigyan Kendra
MANAGE National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management
MDMS Mid-Day Meal Scheme
NCDS Nabakrushna Choudhury Center for Development Studies
OMM Odisha Millet Mission
PDS Public Distribution System
ResRA Researching Rainfed Agriculture
RRA Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture
RRAN Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network
SHG Self Help Group
WASSAN Watershed Support Services and Activities Network