Seeking second Green Revolution, Bihar turns to organic farming

PATNA: After good roads, improving law and order, education and health services, Bihar is turning its attention to popularising and promoting organic farming in the state to usher in a new ” Green Revolution” in agriculture.

In a bid to spread awareness about benefits of organic farming among farmers, hundreds of national and international organic farming scientists and experts are expected to gather in the Bihar capital for a two-day conference beginning Wednesday.

“This conference of national and international organic farming scientists and experts will boost the government’s plans of attracting farmers to adopt organic farming,” R.K. Sohane, director of Bihar Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute here, told IANS.

A days ahead of the International Conference on Organic Agriculture with Focus on Horticulture Crops in Bihar, officials of the organisers – the state agriculture department and Indian Council of Agriculture Research’s Patna Research Complex For Eastern Region (ICAR-RCER) – are upbeat.

“Over 200 participants including organic farming experts and scientists, food processing industry representatives, buyers and government officials will interact at the conference where experts and scientists will explain how organic farming could be popularised and promoted in Bihar,” K.M Singh of ICAR-RCER, said.

An official in the agriculture department said the effort was part of the preparation of a progressive agriculture road-map for the state for the next five years.

The state government has already decided to promote organic farming in at least one village of the state’s 37 districts.

“Bihar government has launched an ‘organic farming promotion programme’ early this year for the cultivation of organic crops in all the districts. The government has decided to develop organic grams (organic villages) for which a sum of Rs.255 crore has been sanctioned for five years,” an official of the agriculture department said.

There is adequate quantity of animal dung, compost, rotten crops and fodder for use in organic farming, the official said.

Early this year, Sohdih village in Nalanda district found a place on the global map through the global positioning system (GPS) for sowing potato over an area of 160 acres by using natural fertilisers only.

In April this year, Bihar become the first state in the country to constitute an agriculture ‘cabinet’ with an aim to improve the agrarian sector and address the plight of the farmers. This move is seen as not only big news for the millions of farmers of Bihar, but the beginning of turnaround for the agriculture sector.

“This will help the state achieve a second ‘Green Revolution'”, state Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh said.

He said that agriculture scientists and farmers had expressed their concern over diminishing fertility of the soil due to the constant use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides and had requested the government to take measures to improve conditions.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has repeatedly said that he wants to have one or two agriculture products from the state on the plate of every Indian in the coming years.

The state government chalked out a roadmap for the agriculture sector in 2008.

“Several steps, including promotion of modern techniques of farming, organic farming, use of improved seeds among others, have been taken in last two-three years but it is still a long way to go in developing the agriculture sector,” the agriculture department official said.

The state government admits on its official website that agriculture is the key to the overall development of the state economy.

Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar’s economy, employing 81 percent of workforce, and generating nearly 42 percent of the state’s domestic product, it says.

Source: TOI

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