Bihar potato farmer sets new world record

Patna, Feb 18 (IANS) Bihar's farmers have done it again. A farmer from Sohdih village of Bihar's Nalanda district has set a new world record in potato production through organic farming this year.

The potato farmer, Rakesh Kumar, has harvested 108.8 tonnes of potato per hecrtare and set a new world record in potato production, Nalanda district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Agrawal said Monday.

Last year, a farmer of Darveshpura village in Nalanda had set a world record in potato production through organic farming.

"Rakesh Kumar has created a new world record in potato production through organic farming. It was verified by experts, scientists and officials," Agrawal told IANS over telephone.

He said several officials and agricultural experts were present in the field at harvest time to verify the claim and record it.

According to him, last March, a potato farmer, Nitish Kumar, harvested 72.9 tonnes of potato per hectare and set a world record.

Till then, the world record was 45 tonnes per hectare, held by farmers in the Netherlands.

Earlier, farmers of the village in Nalanda had created a world record by producing 224 quintals of paddy per hectare.

Rakesh Kumar, who is also chairman of the Nalanda Organic Vegetable Growers' Federation, said he used his learning, inquisitiveness and innovation to deploy high density plantation technique, used for enhancing mango, litchi and guava production, for growing the kufri pukhraj variety of potato to lift the old benchmark to an entirely new level.

"The big-sized potato also helped to make a difference," an upbeat Rakesh said.

District horticulture officer D.N. Mahto said the achievement occurred because of the use of organic methods. "Once again, the organic method of farming proved superior to other methods of farming," he said.

Mahto said the loam soil of the village is suitable for several crops, including potato. "The new record will certainly go a long way in removing doubts about low production associated with organic farming and encourage other farmers to adopt it," he said.

Nalanda, the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, 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. Last year, five farmers here created a world record, producing 224 quintals of paddy per hectare.

The state government has decided to promote organic farming in at least one village in each of the state's 37 districts. It launched an "organic farming promotion programme" over a year ago, intended to develop organic 'grams' (villages).

Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy, employing 81 percent of its workforce and generating nearly 42 percent of the state's domestic product, according to the state government.

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