Experts to learn Bihar farmers’ innovative paddy growing method

Patna, July 2 (IANS) Agriculture scientists and experts across India are keen to learn Bihar farmers’ system of root intensification (SRI) method of paddy cultivation, which has resulted in record crop yields, an official said.

Agriculture scientists and experts from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and the Directorate of Rice Development will visit Bihar’s Nalanda district in second week of July to learn about SRI method from local farmers, said district agriculture officer Sudama Mahto.

Bihar Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh told IANS that successful use of the SRI method of cultivation to boost production has impressed experts in and outside the country.

Agriculture scientists and experts from Kerala, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and from abroad have earlier visited Nalanda to learn the SRI method, he said.

“Top officials of union agriculture ministry had also come,” the minister said.

According to officials, M.C. Diwakar, who heads the directorate of rice development, in his letter to Bihar government, noted that till four or five years ago, the SRI method was not accepted as a scientific method of cultivation by agro-scientists.

“But thanks to record after record made by farmers of Nalanda in paddy production has forced all to declare it a successful method now,” he admitted in his letter

After attaining record production of 87 lakh tonnes in 2012-13, Bihar has set a target of 100 lakh tonnes of paddy this year by using the SRI method of cultivation, an official said.

Narendra Singh said SRI method of paddy cultivation, locally known as ‘Srividhi’ and introduced four years ago, is so far successful in different parts of Bihar as it requires less water and gives two to three times the yield compared to traditional cultivation methods.

Initially, the farmers were reluctant to adopt this new technique despite the state government providing free seeds, fertilizers and experts to guide them. But now, more farmers are taking to this method following its success.

“Rice production in Bihar was 36.4 lakh tonnes in 2009-10 which increased to 81.87 lakh tonnes in 2011-12 and 87 lakh tonnes in 2012-13, thanks to the SRI method,” Narendra Singh said.

Sumant Kumar, a farmer in Darveshpura village in Nalanda district, had created a “world record” in 2011 by producing 224 quintals of paddy per hectare using this method, officials said.

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