Sunday, March 16, 2008

Innovation in Bihar's Agricultural Sector

Bihar's economy is primarily agriculture based and it’s encouraging to see the innovative practices which farmers in Bihar have been adopting over the year to generate various sources of revenue. Traditionally our fertile land has been the major source of revenue and livelihood for the agrarian society in the villages. However over the years floods have become a perennial cause of concern and in view of the nature’s fury new means to generate alternate streams of revenue from the agro based industries has gained momentum.

Take the example of Mr. Shanker Kishore Chaudhary, a progressive small scale farmer of Vaishali district,Bihar, who cultivates elephant foot yam (commonly called as Ool in North India) in his three-acre field. Without stopping with just growing the tuber crop, he has also taken up value added products by creating 33 different varieties of recipes from it such as sweets, pickle, mouth-freshner, and brewing powders similar to the tea.

Elephant foot yam is a tuber crop commonly used as a vegetable and for preparation of pickles and sauce. The tuber is commonly called as Jimikand or Ool in North India, Sooran in Gujarat and Maharashtra, Kand in Andhra Pradesh, Karnai Kilangu in Tamil Nadu and Suwarnagatti in Karnataka, it is cultivated all over the country.

“This value addition has increased the marketability and has demonstrated immense product potentials of this tuber,” said R. Ramadhar, Chairman, Bihar State Farmers Commission, Patna. Mr. Chaudhary grows the crop in his field and also takes the lands of other farmers on rent for raising the crop.“I normally harvest 50-60 tonnes from a hectare of land and earn a gross income of Rs. 2 lakhs in about 10 months.

A number of farmers in the state have adopted Ool farming as a means to supplement their income. Mr. Choudhary provides marketing support to the other yam farmers at a margin of 5 -10 per cent through contract farming. “Besides the contract agreements between Mr. Choudhary and the farmers, there are individual farmers who have taken up Ool cultivation and sell the products to local traders,” said Mr. Ramadhar.

For more information readers can contact Mr. Ramadhar, Chairman, Bihar State Farmers Commission, Pant Bhawan, 1st Floor, Bailey Road, Patna- 800001, e-mail: and, phone:0612-2206169 and 2232847

Written by Ajit Chouhan.

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