Processing technologies for undervalued grains in rural India: on target to help the poor?
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Finger millet (ragi) is increasingly recognized as a nutritious staple by Indian consumers and policy makers. Though previously regarded as a poor person’s crop, the benefits of enhanced ragi consumption may bypass the poor. Because home processing is arduous, small flour mills have been introduced to help. With geo-referenced survey data from a pilot area in the Kolli Hills region of Tamil Nadu, India, we examined determinants of mill use and use intensity employing a two stage multinomial selection model. Overall, we found that the mill technology was not pro-poor, in that poor people do not tend to use the mills more than wealthier people, or use them at higher rates. We identified the location of mills as being a key factor in preventing more use of mills by the poor. Therefore, to better serve the poor, external agencies would have to deliberately locate mills in poor communities. For this to be feasible, changes to make this technology work better with poor communities may be required, such as the use of less capital intensive technology such as hand- or pedal-power, rather than reliance on electrical power.
KeywordsMill use India Nutrition Women Adoption Multiple-selection model
We would like to thank Vic Adamowicz for his help in the sampling design of data collected for this study. We acknowledge important inputs into the implementation of the survey from the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation as well as financial support of the International Development Research Centre and Global Affairs Canada (formerly Department for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) through the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund (IDRC Project Number 106505-001). We thank the following individuals at MSSRF for their contributions to the overall study design and implementation of the surveys: Nita Selena, Oliver King, Siddick Abubacker, Kumar Natarajan, Bala Murugam, and P. Hariharasudhan. We also extend our appreciation to the anonymous reviewers and editors for their helpful comments.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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