Bihar, India, may have provided a potential solution to world food shortages. Last year, a farmer named Sumant Kumar broke the world record for amount of rice grown on a single hectare of land. An hectare is equivalent to about two and a half acres, or 10,000 meters square. Kumar grew 22.4 tons of rice on one hectare, far more than the four or five tons that he usually brought in. The most astonishing part of this world record is that Kumar did not use any herbicides and only used farmyard manure.
Kumar managed to beat agricultural scientists and the International Rice Research Institute – and without using any chemicals. Plus, many others in Bihar, as well as neighboring Darveshpura, discovered that they had grown 17 tons or more on their hectares, so it was not merely a freak occurrence. The state’s chief minister awarded Kumar, and others in the neighboring area, with electricity, a bank, and a bridge, because those things were scarce in the village.
In the following months, Bihar would become “the miracle village.” A few months later, Kumar’s friend broke the world record for potatoes. Not long after, a nearby village broke the record for growing wheat, as well. Soon, it became clear that they had found a potential solution to world food shortages. The reason that the crops are so successful is a method called System of Root Intensification (SRI).
In SRI, the premise “less is more” stands strong. To put it simply, farmers plant half as many seeds as other world farmers, and put plants one-by-one into the fields when very young. They keep the soil dry and plant the crops 25 cm apart. Pesticides and fertilizers are unnecessary.
More SRI research needs to be done, but if the success of Bihar and surrounding villages truly comes from this method, perhaps the world can adopt this cheap way of growing crops, and a potential solution to world food shortages will be in effect.
To watch an audio slideshow about Bihar’s rice, go here.
– Corina Balsamo
Source: The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian