Patna, March 28 (IANS) Bihar's legislators have received a unique gift - organically grown potatoes - to relish and encourage farmers in their constituencies to adopt the farming practice which has led to a record yield of the tuber in the state.
A week after a young farmer of Darveshpura village in Nalanda district set what is claimed to be a world record in potato production through organic farming, the agriculture department has gifted organic potatoes from the crop to all 243 legislators.
"Organic potatoes from Darveshpura, packed in decorated bamboo baskets, have been gifted to legislators to propagate organic farming," Agriculture Minister Narender Singh told IANS.
Singh said organic potato from a village in Nalanda, the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, was gifted to legislators to give them an opportunity to taste its rare flavour and encourage farmers in their own areas to adopt the practice, particularly for vegetables.
With the state government launching inter-state marketing of organic vegetables, the agriculture department aims to remove doubts about low production associated with organic farming and encourage other farmers to adopt it.
Singh said organic farming will fulfil Nitish Kumar's dream of India's second green revolution taking off from Bihar.
In Darveshpura, the potato farmer, also called Nitish Kumar, has harvested 72.9 tonnes of tuber per hectare. The world record so far was 45 tonnes per hectare held by farmers in the Netherlands, officials said.
Nalanda District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agrawal said several officials and agricultural experts were present in the field at the harvest time to verify the claim and record it.
Nalanda is already the leading potato producing district in Bihar with farmers growing the crop on over 27,000 hectares.
Bihar is the third largest potato producing state after Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
Darveshpura was also in the news last year when farmers of the village created a world record by producing 224 quintals of paddy per hectare.
Young farmer, Sumant Kumar, produced the record yield, beating the world record, held by China's Yuan Longping, of 190 quintals of paddy produced per hectare. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has certified Sumant Kumar's record.
The SRI (system of rice intensification) method of paddy cultivation - part of organic farming - was introduced in the state three years ago.
Initially the farmers were reluctant to adopt this new technique despite the state government providing free seeds, fertiliser and experts to guide them. But now more farmers have expressed interest in adopting the method.
As per the European Union's agriculture department, organic farming is a system of cultivation which includes wide crop rotation as a prerequisite for efficient use of on-site resources and very strict limits on chemical synthetic pesticides and synthetic fertiliser use, livestock antibiotics, food additives and processing aids and other inputs.
It also prohibits the use of genetically modified organisms.
The practice includes taking advantage of on-site resources, such as livestock manure for fertiliser or feed produced on the farm; and choosing plant and animal species that are resistant to disease and adapted to local conditions.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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