After paddy feat, a Nalanda village looks at potato

Five farmers of Darveshpura village in Bihar's Nalanda district created a world record last October when they produced 220 quintals of paddy per hectare using SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method.

The feat has inspired other villagers to write history.

A set of young farmers are growing potatoes each weighing between 800 g and 1 kilo that they send to potato chips factories through local traders. Hordes of agricultural scientists who had visited the village last year to meet paddy growers, too, had encouraged these farmers to excel in potato and wheat production.

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.

Nitish, who recently visited Darveshpura village to felicitate paddy farmers, said that the state had a huge potential in potato production and could attract food processing factories.

Bihar is the highest potato producing state after Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

Sanjay Prasad Singh, a farmer in his mid-thirties, said: "We have been growing potatoes of big sizes for quite some time now, but we often do not get good markets. Now that our village is in focus, we are growing more potatoes and hope to reap good benefits."

What may also help the village is the state government charting an agriculture roadmap worth Rs 10,000 crore for 10 years, starting 2011.

Growing big potatoes is also a safe bet. "Even if the plants are hit by frost, we do not suffer losses. We only want assurances of good market and minimum support price (MSP)."

The village that has about 1,200 bighas of land, generally produces three crops a year. The new crop will be ready in February.

Sumant Kumar, who is one among the paddy production record holders, said the village land that often gets loamy soil from a seasonal river is suitable for several crops, including the potato.

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