From a remote village in India, Sumant Kumar has recently broken the world record for the amount of rice grown on a hectare, or 2.47 acres of land.
Even better news is that this was done using minimal water and resources using an innovative organic farming system. Millions of people live in this region and many rely on Sumant’s rice harvests to survive.
The now deemed “miracle” village of Darveshpura in the Indian state of Bihar is setting all kinds of food growing records, not just rice, but with wheat and potatoes as well. A typical rice harvest on a hectare in this economically humble village was historically about 4-5 tonnes, but it has recently improved by magnitudes.
The farming hero Sumant’s latest rice harvest weighted an amazing 22.4 tonnes! This beats the previous record of 19.4 tonnes by Chinese biotech engineer Yuan Longping, and also triumphed over the poisoned genetically altered yields that aren’t even worth growing in the first place.
Sumant’s method of success was developed by a Jesuit priest and scientific agriculturalist named Henri de Laulanie which is called System of Root Intensification, or SRI. It is also referred to as “System of Rice Intensification.” The breakthrough crop management system is a best practice guideline that has, according to Cornell University, shown an absolutely astounding “50%-100% or more increased yields, up to a 90% reduction in required seed, and up to 50% water savings.”
Some of the basic rules of the root intensification system are transplanting the rice plant early when it only has 2 leaves to a 9.8 inch by 9.8 inch spaced grid. Only one seedling per section is used to prevent roots competing over resources. With standard rice farming, 3-4 seedlings are used per spot at three weeks of age which wastes seed and isn’t as gentle on the land for future growing.
After planting, instead of flooding the fields with water, only a minimal amount is needed and the fields can be kept dry in comparison with no issues. It’s a “less is significantly more” system that actually works and is more conducive to healthier plants while being cheaper to grow and maintain. Sumant does take the additional effort to carefully weed around the rice plants to ensure there is enough air for the roots.
The root intensification system is in many ways contrary to the traditional method of farming involving a heavy use of chemical sprays, artificial fertilizer, and gene manipulation that bring many bad consequences and show nowhere near the same results. Sumant’s neighbors using the same system netted an impressive 17 tonnes of rice.
Professor Norman Upoff of Cornell University has worked hard to spread the good news of SRI to the third world. Explaining the system to Guardian.co.uk he was quoted as saying, “It is a set of ideas, the absolute opposite to the first green revolution [of the 60s] which said that you had to change the genes and the soil nutrients to improve yields. That came at a tremendous ecological cost.”
The Professor explained that the science of DNA alteration is the wrong path and that crop management is what should be the focus. He told Guardian, “It’s been genes, genes, genes. There has never been talk of managing crops. Corporations say ‘we will breed you a better plant’ and breeders work hard to get 5-10% increase in yields. We have tried to make agriculture an industrial enterprise and have forgotten its biological roots.”
Bihar state agriculture ministry member Doctor Surendra Chaurassa told Guardian.co.uk regarding the SRI system, ”Farmers use less seeds, less water and less chemicals but they get more without having to invest more. This is revolutionary .. I did not believe it to start with, but now I think it can potentially change the way everyone farms. I would want every state to promote it. If we get 30-40% increase in yields, that is more than enough to recommend it.”
He isn’t the only one to not believe it at first as the agricultural universities of Sumant’s state of Bihar mistakenly said the results were flawed without fully investigating it themselves. The results were indeed checked though and verified by Bihar’s head of agriculture who is also a rice farmer. The chief minister of Darveshpura also recognized the accomplishment and awarded Sumant’s town with electricity and a new concrete bridge.
While Sumant’s work is being recognized, God is the one who did the real work in growing the bountiful rice harvest and deserves the recognition. The signature of God’s messenger Kahetel is all over this good news story.
The angel Kahetel dominates agricultural produce (mostly for what is necessary for the existence of humans and animals), fertile lands, abundant harvests, and helps bring you into harmony with cosmic laws. Amongst many other things, this great angel also helps obtain blessings and protects against evil spirits. Evil spirits can manifest in many forms, and ones common to farmers are degraded infertile soil, insects, weeds, Monsanto, etc so it is indeed a blessing to have Kahetel’s protection when growing food.
Following God’s rules such as letting farmland lay dormant every 7th year is a perfect way to always have fertile land. You can call Kahetel by name or with psalm 119:75, “I know, LORD, that your decrees are just, and that you have rightfully humbled me.”Story sources are the great ”India’s Rice Revolution” article on guardian.co.uk, as well as Bible.cc, Bible Gateway, and UCM.ca. The artwork in this good news is titled “Relationship” by the beautiful Polish painter Kashaja9 and has been used with permission. Rice field picture courtesy of Matsuyuki.