Chinese agro-scientist questions Nalanda farmer’s claim of record rice production

Patna,(BiharTimes): In the last couple of years farmers of Nalanda district of Bihar have made claims of breaking one world record after another in potato, onion and rice production.
But, it is for the first time that China’s most renowned agricultural scientist has openly challenged the claim and called it as “120 per cent fake”.

The farmer of chief minister Nitish Kumar’s home district claimed to have harvested a world record of 22.4 tonnes of rice from one hectare of land without using herbicides or genetically modified (GM) seeds last year.

Yuan Longping, a national icon and known in China as “the father of hybrid rice” for developing varieties that enabled China to transform its grain output was quoted in Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post as saying: “I introduced the (SRI) intensification method in China myself.” “It could increase yields by 10 to 15 per cent in low-yield fields, but it’s not possible in fields that are already producing relatively high yields.”

Yuan’s rice varieties were subsequently introduced widely in the world, and marked a record yield of 19.4 tonnes a hectare.

As reported a farmer in Nalanda district created world record by using a herbicide-free, GM-free and chemical-free method called System of Rice Intensification (SRI). If the claim is really true it could transform rice farming across the world.

But Yuan has cast a serious doubt. He said the farmer who claimed to have broken the world record, Sumant Kumar, had said “they had lots of rain and little sunshine last year,” but high yields would be impossible without adequate sunshine.

From photographs, the harvested plants “appeared short and couldn’t possibly produce high yields,” the scientist was quoted as saying.

Yuan also asked: “How could the Indian government have confirmed the number after the harvesting was already done?”

“If Mr Kumar is able to repeat his success next year, I will be glad to examine the results in the field personally.”

It is not only in China, even in India, there are many people who are privately asking as to how just the farmers of Nalanda and no other place in Bihar are repeatedly breaking all the records. True Nalanda, along with some other districts, is known for good yield of potato and onion, but so far rice production is concerned districts like Patna, Bhojpur, Rohtas, Arwal, Aurangabad etc––or those situated on both sides of river Sone––are famous.

This year once again Rakesh Kumar of Nalanda broke the record of farmer Nitish Kumar of the same district in potato production. What is surprising is that the yield per acre was 30 per cent more than the last year.

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