Government's Push for Makhana Production
Thanks to its exceptional nutritional value and rising global demand, Makhana is swiftly gaining popularity worldwide. As Bihar stands as the largest producer of Makhana, the state's agriculture department has implemented a range of measures to support and boost Makhana production. Sanjay Agarwal, Secretary of the State Agriculture Department, shares insights on the government's efforts to foster Makhana production in Bihar.
Bihar's Leading Role in Phool Makhana Production
Bihar takes the lead, contributing to approximately 80% of Makhana production in India. This remarkable achievement is primarily concentrated in 10 districts across the state, including Darbhanga, Madhubani, Sitamarhi, Purnia, Katihar, Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Araria, and Kishanganj. The cultivation of Makhana continues to expand each year, with farmers increasingly shifting to this crop. The profitability per acre for Makhana is nearly double when compared to traditional crops like paddy, making it an attractive option for farmers.
The Geographical Indication (GI) Tag's Impact
The Indian government's award of the GI tag to 'Mithila Makhana' on August 16th last year has significantly benefited Makhana farmers. This prestigious recognition has elevated the product's status and facilitated better pricing for Makhana in both domestic and international markets.
Government Initiatives to Promote Makhana Production
The State Agriculture Department has undertaken comprehensive measures encompassing the entire Makhana production cycle, from pre-production to post-production. The Makhana Vikas Yojana scheme has been initiated to support and empower farmers. Collaborations with institutions such as Bhola Paswan Shastri Agriculture College in Purnia and the National Research Centre for Makhana in Darbhanga have enabled seed production of high-yield varieties, which are subsequently distributed to farmers. The department also organises practical demonstrations of Makhana cultivation, sharing best practices with farmers in their fields and ponds. Additionally, a Center of Excellence for Makhana is being established in Purnia district, further solidifying the government's commitment to the growth of this industry.
Overcoming Storage Challenges
One of the primary challenges faced by Makhana farmers is storage. Makhana requires ample space and a dry environment for storage, which can be a hurdle for small-scale farmers. To address this issue, the government has initiated the distribution of hermetic storage bags to farmers, allowing them to safely store their produce for over six months. Furthermore, there are plans to extend support for the construction of dedicated storage infrastructure in Makhana-growing districts, ensuring the long-term preservation and quality of the produce.
Makhana Exports - A Growing Trend
Makhana has found its way onto international tables and is being exported to various countries, including the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Nepal, Canada, and Australia. Annually, nearly 200 metric tonnes of Makhana are exported, with Bihar accounting for a substantial 85% share of this market. Beyond international exports, efforts are underway to tap into markets in other Indian states, particularly metropolitan cities, ensuring that more people across India and the world can savour the delights of this nutritious and versatile superfood.
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