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Challenge to China
- Farmer invites doubting scientist to field

Patna, Feb. 27: The world’s top rice farmer has invited his challenger from China to visit Bihar and see for himself the yield on his farm.

Not only that, Sumant Kumar of Nalanda is also open to the idea of harvesting the crop in the presence of experts so that questions are not raised about his feat.

Scientists have doubted the claim that Kumar’s land in Darveshpura village — around 110km southeast of Patna — yielded 22.4 tonnes per hectare of paddy in 2011, a world record.

Kumar overtook the record set by Chinese farmer-cum-scientist Yuan Longping, whose claim was a yield of 19.4 tonnes per hectare the previous year.

Yuan, in a recent interview to China News Service, rubbished Kumar’s claim as “120 per cent fake”.

Kumar today said he was confident he could repeat his performance this year as well. “A team from China Central Television visited me today and asked me several questions regarding the farming techniques being used here for enhancing productivity of different crops. Through them, I have conveyed a message to Yuan to come to my village at the time of paddy harvesting,” Kumar told The Telegraph by phone from Nalanda.

“If the weather remains favourable this year, I would break the record of the Chinese scientist once again,” the Nalanda farmer said, adding that the productivity level of his field had suffered in 2012 owing to some personal problems and unfavourable weather conditions.

He, however, hastened to add that he was not sure whether he would be able to match his own record or not. “The challenge has come from China and my focus is to cross the productivity achieved there,” said Kumar.

Last year, the productivity of his paddy field plummeted to around 14 tonnes per hectare. This came to the fore during a field inspection by a team of rice scientists, jointly drafted from the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, and the Directorate of Rice Research, Rajendra Nagar near Hyderabad, which visited Darveshpura and adjoining villages in 2012.

“During field inspection in 2012, it came to light that the productivity level there was between 13 and 14 tonnes of paddy per hectare in fields where hybrid varieties (ARIZE 6444) of seeds were cultivated using green manure and systematic rice intensification method. It was certainly substantially less than the productivity level reported a year earlier,” said N.K. Singh, university professor and chief scientist (rice) at Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa (Samastipur), who was part of the team that had visited Darveshpura.

Kumar too had used ARIZE 6444 hybrid seeds in 2011.