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Black Rice and Black Wheat Cultivation in Bihar; Success Story of Progressive Farmers

The numerous health benefits associated with this rice in addition to opportunity for generating decent return from its cultivation has encouraged farmers of different states to take up the cultivation of Black Rice. Lot of farmers in Bihar have successfully opted black rice over the conventional white rice this year. Like Black Rice the progressive farmers in Bihar have also tried cultivating black wheat variety and were successful in this venture as well.

Abhijeet Banerjee

Black rice is one of the most exotic and nutritious rice variety and it has started gaining consumers’ attention globally in last few years. The demand for Black Rice is increasing in Indian markets as well.  This variety of Rice has a deep black color and usually after cooking the color changes into deep purple. This phenomenon is mainly due to presence of anthocyanin, which is available higher in greater percentage than other colored grains. Black Rice is suitable for creating porridge, dessert, traditional Chinese black rice cake, bread and noodles. This type of rice comes from the species of Oryza sativa, some of which are glutinous rice. Varieties include Indonesian black rice, Philippine balatina rice, and Thai jasmine black rice. Black rice is known as chak-hao in Manipur, where desserts made from black rice are served at major feasts.  

Black Rice Success Story: 

The numerous health benefits associated with this rice in addition to opportunity for generating decent return from its cultivation has encouraged farmers of different states to take up the cultivation of Black Rice. Today we shall be covering on the success stories of Black Rice in the state of Bihar. Lot of farmers in Bihar have successfully opted black rice over the conventional white rice this year. There are reports of progressive farmers in Bihar growing black rice, boosting their incomes and thinking of innovation in the farming sector, by giving up traditional cropping patterns, and seeking better farming options. 

Initially most growers were not sure about the fate of the Black rice crop but interactions and guidance from scientists, along with acquiring knowledge on the nutritional value of the black rice; they decided to try growing it in half an acre of land. This was a successful venture for most of the growers who then encouraged their village members/peers to take up cultivation of Black Rice. The successful farmers even sent the seeds across India for cultivation purpose hence making this farming popular in the country. This is a history for these progressive farmers - since from Bihar it is the first time that any farm produce has been sent outside the state. 

Black Wheat Success Story: 

Like Black Rice the progressive farmers in Bihar have also tried cultivating black wheat variety and were successful in this venture as well. Experts have confirmed that black wheat is rich in anti-oxidants and good for diabetic people, along with other health benefits. Black wheat farming in Bihar had also given good returns to the progressive farmers as per sources. Known for its high nutritional value, Black Wheat is a source of iron, vitamin E, antioxidants, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is very effective for lifestyle disorders like diabetes, inflammatory disorders and obesity, also useful in managing blood cholesterol level. The plant pigment present in this wheat is anthocyanin which is a very well-known antioxidant. Our body produces harmful free radicals therefore Black Wheat becomes useful in fighting against free radical induced diseases like cancer. Additionally, it has high concentration of micronutrients like iron and zinc, and the Iron content is roughly 60 percent more than normal wheat. The percentage of protein, nutrients and starch are nearly the same as in normal wheat. Therefore in terms of health, black wheat scores better than the normal wheat.  

Association with NGO brings Desirable Results: 

In last few years, nearly 5,000 farmers in Bihar had got associated with “Awaz Ek Pahal”, an NGO working to change the farming habits of farmers for the last few years. This NGO also helps Growers to cultivate exotic fruits like kiwis, dragon fruit, strawberries etc. Lots of farmers associated with this NGO, have made serious efforts to interact with farmers with the objective to bring innovations to the sector. Scientists were invited for visits for explaining methods of Black Rice/Black wheat farming and also sharing necessary knowledge. Training from scientists was also on the Agenda list. Those who had successfully grown the varieties Black rice and Black wheat were then invited to share their experiences, and this help the farmers to get convinced to a great extent, in taking up cultivation of the above-mentioned varieties. Farmers from different villages have confirmed that the growers got profitable results in using small portion of their land for cultivating Black Rice and Black Wheat varieties.  

The farming community feedback for black rice grown in half an acre is quite encouraging as most of the farmers have received better returns. Similarly, lots of black wheat growers could get higher output, from which they could keep some portion for their family and near ones while selling rest of the variety and receiving handsome gains against their production cost. Even there are reports of some farmers in Bihar, doubling their income in farming of Black Rice as well as Black Wheat this year.  

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