Gauri Sarin's thoughts on her visit to Bihar
I had the opportunity to be invited to the Bihar Agri- at Sabour to speak on Agrepreneurship to support farmers’ incomes and address students, faculty and farmers sharing with them the opportunities and challenges which exist, open their minds to the ground level possibilities as well as explore the role of academicians in enabling an ecosystem. This visit gave me a chance to discover the range of produce Bihar has in different belts partly left unexplored in the outside world.
Some of these are the traditional foods of high nutritional foods are dying. My discovery of about 8-9 foods of which one is katarni rice; very tasty (and also chura which is made from the katarni rice is outstanding).
The second of course is Makhana, very well known but used in very limited ways, again its nutrition has a huge potential.
The third is the varieties of mangoes; there are one or two specific varieties which can be explored.
Litchi is of course well known which can be tapped more and then Sattu and maize are other potential crops.
Bihar is the biggest producer of honey i.e., particular forest honey which again can be tapped. So, I would say that Bihar is very rich and has wide range of produce and processing capability need to be increased.
Bihar University does have some processing capability which hasn’t yet been exploited fully.
Beyond this I would say Bihar youth really need to get engaged to market some of their produce by packaging them, branding them as well as processing them in interesting ways. Flax seeds is another traditional food of Bihar used for making chutneys. Again, unfortunately I understand the cultivation is decreasing.
Organic is still a small word in Bihar, we need to really increase the organic cultivation in Bihar to give better price realization and more than price realization to ensure that agriculture really becomes more environment friendly.