Only heard of the Litti Chokhas, and the IAS officers Bihar produces? Well, Bihar is way more than that. Let’s check these Crops That Can Boost Agriculture In Bihar especially strawberry farming in Bihar.
Strawberry Farming In Bihar
This juicy fruit is a good source of vitamin C and is mostly present in north India between November to January. The strawberry plant grows best in sandy soil with a neutral pH and involves drip irrigation. The most suitable growing conditions for this cash crop are mainly in regions like Mahabaleshwar, Ooty, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and the northeast of India. Don’t be surprised if we link it with Bihar. Let’s see how it started.
Strawberry Cultivation In Bihar – Chilhaki Bigha
A remote village situated on the highway connecting Bihar and Jharkhand- recently came in limelight for strawberry cultivation. Brijkishore Mehta, a native farmer, got the idea to grow strawberries in Bihar from his son who had worked at strawberry fields in Haryana. The similar land and climatic conditions of both places motivated the farmer to cultivate this sweet fruit. Once Brijkishore’s experiment harvested sweet results there was no looking back. Soon other farmers also started emulating this model and reaped success in no time. Looking at this successful strawberry farming, even the agriculture department of Bihar came forward and helped the farmers with subsidies on drip irrigation equipment and plants. The department also trained more than 50 farmers from regions like Gaya, Aurangabad, and Nawada based on the Chilhaki model. Strawberry cultivation helped farmers earn as much as Rs. 7000 per month. Even women got employment from plucking strawberries. This cash crop also helped farmers earn up to 3 lakh per bigha land. Chilhaki Bigha strawberries earned their name in no time and are being sent to Kolkata, Patna, Ranchi, Bokaro, etc.
Makhana Farming To Boost Agriculture In Bihar
Since the shift towards healthy snacks, ‘Makhana’ is one desi snack that has become quite popular. And there is no better place than Bihar for makhana or fox nuts cultivation. In fact, 90% of the world’s makhana grows in Bihar- which has all the favourable conditions for its cultivation. As it is a weather-resilient crop, farmers have to turn it to after facing disappointment with weather-dependent crops like rice and corn. Usually cultivates in stagnant water or ponds, this nut crop grows on low land areas after facing recurring floods. Due to its ability to not have an impact on uncertain weather, it has become a farmer’s favourite. And how! Many farmers are churning out profitable businesses out of makhana cultivation. There has also been an increase in the sowing area of makhana in the Kosi-Seemanchal area of Bihar- and has reached around 15 thousand hectares, which is almost half of the total nut crop area in Bihar. Even the Bihar government sensed the profitability of this crop and announced schemes to utilize the lakhs of abandoned low land to cultivate this superfood. Currently, around 50,000 metric tonnes of foxnut will produce in Seemanchal and fetches around ₹50,000 per quintal.
Pineapple Farming In Bihar
This pinecone fruit is one of the most profitable fruit commercial crops out there. With an annual production of more than 14.5 million tonnes, it is cultivated majorly in Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra, and the northeast. Being a tropical fruit, it grows best in humid conditions and thrives in plains. Thakurganj and Pothia in the Kishanganj district have been the home of the major pineapple cultivation in Bihar. Farmers in Bihar have been fascinated by this fruit due to Bihar’s favourable climatic conditions like the 4° Celsius difference in day and night, adequate rainfall, and extremely fertile soil.
Potato Farming Can Boost Agriculture In Bihar
India being a developing country, has always relied on food crops like wheat, rice, maize, etc. Potato is another food crop that is consumed in various forms and in huge quantities by Indians. So much so that this vegetable is the king of versatility in the Indian kitchen. And you won’t be surprised to know that India is the 3rd largest producer of potatoes in the world. To ward off problems of water shortage, food scarcity, and increasing population, potato being a short-duration crop, is both by farmers and consumers.
All 38 districts of Bihar contribute to the cultivation of potatoes, but Nalanda, Patna, Saran, Samastipur, Gopalganj Vaishali, and East and West Champaran, top the list.
Cool winter days from October to March are the best days to cultivate potato which has a crop duration of between 90-100 days only. Hence, it can also fit as a ‘Sandwich crop’ in the rice-wheat growing areas. This is the reason why this crop doesn’t interfere with other productions. Two crops of potato can also be grown- one in autumn, the other in spring- on the same field.
Potato grows on a wide range of soils like the young alluvium calcareous soils, alluvium non-calcareous non-saline soils, and old alluvium soils. All these fertile soils are present in various parts of Bihar. Farmers often choose to cut pieces of tubers since seeds are costly. This crop requires adequate water, a good quality nitrogen fertilizer, and a cool temperature. Its early crop harvests in 60-70 days and hence proves to be a profitable cash crop.
Since around 90% of the farmers in Bihar are small and marginal, landholding poses a major threat to potato cultivation.
Potato can safely be a profitable crop in Bihar as it is a high-yielding crop and generates employment in terms of harvesting, transportation, and processing. Despite this, it is a paradox that potato productivity in Bihar is low as compared to other states. Poor crop management practices like inadequate irrigation and good quality planting material owing to the low productivity. Also, poor investment capabilities and erratic market prices are also to be taken care of.
Potato cultivation in Bihar could become highly profitable over the years if there is sustainable and efficient practices.
You might have fond memories of drinking sweet-sour sugarcane juice when you were young. Ever wondered where and how this cash crop is cultivated?
A backbone of the sugar industry, sugarcane is India’s one major cash crop. It is used to produce sugar and jaggery which are hugely in consumption in India and all over the globe. Byproducts like alcohol and ethanol also have a proper use for various purposes. The waste from sugarcane- bagasse- is also to make coarse paper and various forms of cardboard. Still, wondering why sugarcane cultivation is so important?
Once a bastion of major sugarcane factories, Bihar has been a favourable place to grow and market sugarcane. The northern part of Bihar is climatically appropriate to grow sugarcane.
Heavy and well-drained soil, with a pH of 6.5-7.5 is favourable for cane production
Sugarcane cultivation is labour and capital-intensive. And Bihar provides cheap labour. Since Bihar is a sub-tropical region, it usually takes a year for the sugarcane to mature. The next harvest for the same cultivation takes place after a year but the first yield produces better quality and quantity of cane.
Sugarcane cultivation has been a profitable venture for the farmers of Bihar. Growers in places like Champaran, Muzaffarpur, and Sitamarhi, often earn 70,000 to 1lac of profit from 1 acre of cultivation, depending on the climatic conditions and the demand for sugar, and other products.
Since tobacco cultivation is getting lesser and due to various bans on tobacco products in Bihar, farmers are moving towards cane cultivation for cash.
Bihar has bountiful natural resources like extremely fertile soil, an abundant supply of water from the Ganges, and a varied climate. It is already the largest producer of Litchi, Guava, Lady Finger, and Makhana- and the rich biodiversity and abundant human resources make it a hot spot for cultivating cash crops like Strawberries, Sugarcane, Potatoes, and Pineapple. With judicious use of its natural resource and appropriate farming practices in combination with the latest technology, Bihar can be an excellent cultivation land for cash crops and yield great produce, along with employment for all. So when are you putting your green thumb to use?
When it comes to agriculture, more than 70% of the Bihar population is in farming. It contributes to grains, fruits, vegetables, spices, and whatnot! Blessed by the holy and mighty rivers like Ganga, Koshi, and Gandak, Bihar plains make it to the list of the most fertile plains in the world. Not only that but it is also endowed with Gangetic alluvium soil which is known to be extremely fertile. But despite sufficient groundwater, fertile soil, and other favourable farming conditions, Bihar has still not realized its agricultural potential to the fullest.
The alluvial soil of this region is loamy and varies in thickness. Due to its physical properties, it is fertile and favours the cultivation of agricultural crops like pulses, paddy, maize, and wheat, and cash crops like sugarcane, jute, onion, and tobacco.