Students of Gyan Jyoti Public High School in Patna took leave of their books for a day and learnt about cultivating paddy at the Tarumitra campus in Digha.
Fifty students of the educational institution on Saturday learnt the nitty-gritty of threshing paddy over two hours on the premises of the non-government organisation.
Threshing is a process of separating the edible part of a grain from the inedible chaff that surrounds it.
While hi-tech machines are used to carry out threshing these days, the students got a taste of the laborious traditional method of doing it by hand.
But none of them complained. Instead, they shouted “Zor lagake haiya” (Do it with all your might) and “Jai jawan, jai kisan” (Hail youth, hail farmers) to encourage each other as they beat the paddy to extract the grain.
Their teacher, Sister Mudita Sodder, also joined them. Other teachers, Kanchan Pathak and Margaret Molomoo, oversaw the activity along with Tarumitra founder Father Robert Athickal.
“This is novel initiative on the part of Tarumitra,” said Sodder. “As they live in Patna, most of the students do not get a chance to experience farming. Naturally, they are very excited about this experience.”
Her students agreed. Sonu Kumar, a Class VIII pupil, said: “I had never imagined that I would experience this. It was very exciting. I am thankful to Tarumitra for allowing me to come here and thresh paddy.”
Sonu’s fellow mates shared the thrill. Neha Kumari, a Class VI student, said she loved to take part in all programmes organised by Tarumitra. “The NGO always organises wonderful activities for us. I had come here earlier to plant saplings and then to tie rakhi on trees. The activity organised today (Saturday) was also a lot of fun,” she said.
The activity was made even more special as the rice the students threshed was a rare variety.
“At Tarumitra, we cultivate Kalinga variety of rice,” said D.N. Prasad, a member of the NGO.
“It is facing extinction as only hybrid varieties are cultivated these days. However, the Kalinga variety takes only 60 days to ripen as compared to other varieties which take around 90 days.”
Uchit Kumar, director, Gyan Jyoti Public High School, said he had encouraged the students to take part in the activity because he knew that Tarumitra cultivated paddy organically.
“It is inspiring to learn that Tarumitra did not use chemical fertilisers for cultivation,” he said. “Others should take inspiration from this and learn about organic methods of agriculture.”