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Bihar Launches Plan To Conserve Rare Varieties of Rice 

By PTI January 18, 2023

The conservation plan will include creating awareness among local farmers regarding improved crop production technologies, efficient water application tools, plant protection and nutrient management

Bihar Launches Plan To Conserve Rare Varieties of Rice 
Bihar government has decided to conduct a preliminary survey and launch a conservation plan to protect rare varieties. DepositPhotos
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Concerned with a sharp decline in farming of traditional varieties of rice in certain districts, the Bihar government has decided to conduct a preliminary survey and launch a conservation plan to protect rare varieties such as 'Marcha rice','Govind Bhog' and 'Sona Chur' in the state, an official said. 

"We are really concerned with the decline in cultivation of rare varieties of rice that includes 'Marcha rice', 'Govind Bhog' and 'Sona Chur' in the state. These are rare varieties of rice cultivated in certain districts in Bihar. A preliminary survey/study will soon be conducted to find out the reason behind decline in cultivation of these varieties of rice", said Ashutosh, Chairman of The Bihar State Biodiversity Board (BSBB) told the media. 

BSBB has also decided to conduct a study to find out the reason behind the sharp decline in the cultivation of India's famous 'Magahi paan' (betel leaf), which received the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2018, in four districts of the state namely Aurangabad, Gaya, Nawada and Nalanda. 

K Ganesh Kumar, Secretary of the BSBB, further told the media, "Based on the findings of our survey, the board will launch a conservation plan to protect these rare varieties of rice. While, Marcha rice (appears like black pepper) is cultivated in Gaunaha, Narkatiaganj, Ramnagar, Chanpatiya and Lauriya blocks of West Champaran district, Govind Bhog rice is grown mainly in Kaimur. Govind Bhog rice is known for its fine quality and rich fragrance, and is cultivated on a large scale in Kaimur district." 

The BSBB official said data available with the board suggest a decline in farming in traditional varieties of rice without specifying the figure. As far as aromatic Sonachur rice is concerned, it is mainly grown in Bhojpur, Rohtas, and certain parts of northern Bihar, he said, adding decline in cultivation of this variety of rice is also a matter of concern. 

The Secretary added, "The conservation plan will also include creating awareness among the local farmers regarding newer improved crop production technologies, efficient water application tools, plant protection, nutrient management, cropping system based training to the farmers, etc. Focused attention for improving the seed quality will also be part of the conservation plan." 

Further, the BSBB has also decided to conduct a survey to find out the reason behind decline in the cultivation of 'Magahi paan', said Kumar. "Farmers had hoped for better days when the paan got the GI tag, but nothing substantially changed for them. The board will suggest options to the farmers for increasing the cultivation of Magahi paan in its conservation plan," he shared. 

According to the state government’s data, Magahi paan is currently cultivated in only 440 hectares in the state. The number of paan farmers is on the decline because of lack of  state help to ease their high cost of production.

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