Indian farmers better than scientists: Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz
Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz is impressed by the organic farming practices in Bihar's Nalanda district, terming its practitioners "better than scientists" and calling for their experiences to be researched so that these can be replicated elsewhere.
"Indian farmers are better than scientists," Stiglitz said here after visiting organic farmers in Nalanda, the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
"It was amazing to see their success in organic farming. Agriculture scientists from across the world should visit their farm land to learn and be inspired by them," said Stiglitz, a professor of economics at the prestigious Columbia University and here to deliver the Asian Development Research Foundation Lecture 2013.
"There is a need to take the experiences of these farmers seriously and go for research to give a scientific approach to adopt it outside," he added.
According to Chanchal Kumar, a senior government official who accompanied Stiglitz, the economist minutely inquired about the techniques.
He said that Stiglitz also told farmers that the increasing trend of organic farming is good for the health too.
Bihar is turning its attention to popularising and promoting organic farming in the state to usher in a new "Green Revolution" in agriculture.
The Nitish Kumar government has already decided to promote organic farming in at least one village of the state's 37 districts. It launched an "organic farming promotion programme" over a year ago, intended to develop organic grams (organic villages).
A sum of Rs.255 crore (nearly 50 million USD) has been sanctioned for development of organic farming, said an official of the agriculture department.
The new techniques however did not have many takers in the beginning.
"Initially the farmers were reluctant to adopt organic farming despite the state government providing free seeds, fertiliser and experts to guide them. But now more farmers have expressed interest in adopting the method of farming," said a district official in Nalanda.
Last year, a young farmer of Darveshpura village in Nalanda set what is claimed to be a world record in potato production through organic farming. Earlier, farmers of the same village created a world record by producing 224 quintals of paddy per hectare.
Nitish Kumar has repeatedly said that he wants to have one or two agriculture products from the state on the plate of every Indian in the coming years.
"Several steps, including promotion of modern techniques of farming, organic farming and use of improved seeds, have been taken in the last two-three years, but it is still a long way to go in developing the agriculture sector," said the agriculture department official.
Agriculture is the backbone of Bihar's economy, employing 81 percent of workforce and generating nearly 42 percent of the state's domestic product, according to the state government.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)