Under the guidance of a former CIMAP director, locals in Itaunja village are experimenting with farming methods and crops that are not typical to the region.
Innovative farming experiments have often ‘cropped’ up with great results, sometimes even in the midst of droughts.
In Itaunja, a village in Uttar Pradesh not far from capital city Lucknow, a farming experiment is being carried out involving a pond and makhana or fox nut seeds.
Roasted Makhana seeds. Source: Wikimedia
The idea is the brainchild of SP Khanuja, former director of Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), who has adopted the village and plans on transforming it into a model village by implementing innovative farming practices.
“Makhana is a crop from Bihar and is not sown in Uttar Pradesh. As the agro-climatic conditions are similar in Bihar and Itaunja, we decided to introduce makhana farming here. The crop has been sown in April under the guidance of experts from the Makhana Research Centre in Darbhanga,” said Khanuja to Hindustan Times.
Amidst talks of the crop’s sustainability in the region, he mentioned that the pond had previous been a spot for growing lotus, making it optimal for the new crop to grow. Makhana is the local name for Euryale ferox, a flowering plant that grows in stagnant water bodies. In India, it’s commonly known as being derived from lotus seeds.
“We have taken all precautions to ensure that the seeds germinate and we get a crop,” he said.
Part of a flora-fauna foundation, Khanuja has collborated with a group of experts to work on on similar experiments. In fact, makhana wouldn’t be the only crop to be introduced in Itaunja. Soon enough, carrot farming will be taken up in the area.
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“The farmers of the village said they have tried carrot farming once, but discontinued due to lack of market. We have contacted one company that supplies carrots to hotels and have ensured a market for farmers of the village. So this October, the sowing of carrot will also be done in the village,” added Khanuja.
According to the former director, earnings from the harvest will be collected and used for welfare activities in the village. If the crop succeeds, the practice will be extended to more ponds.