Sanjeev in his cauliflower farm
A progressive farmer with several awards under his belt has won the Government of India's Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Reward 2015 for conserving cauliflower seeds later used to develop an early maturing variety of the vegetable.
Sanjeev Kumar from Vaishali's Chakwara village, an alumnus of St Severin's High School in Patna, received the award from Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh on April 19 at an event in Motihari. Sanjeev is one among 35 across the country to win the award this year.
"I am happy that for the first time, a farmer from Bihar has got this prestigious award," Sanjeev (36), who has been farming for the past 18 years, told The Telegraph on Friday. "My hard work has finally paid off."
Sanjeev was feted for conserving cauliflower seeds, and later sharing the cauliflower germplasm (genetic resources maintained for breeding, preservation and other research work) with Bihar Agricultural University, Sabour. The university used the seed to develop an early maturing variety of cauliflower, called Sabour Agrim.
The certificate says Sanjeev has been rewarded for "engaging in conservation of genetic resources of land races and wild relatives of economic plants and their improvement through selection and preservation". The award carries a cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh from the National Gene Fund.
"Farmers are mostly engaged in traditional cultivation, but I thought of doing something different," said Sanjeev who has studied till Class XII. "In 2005 I formed the Anyadata Krishak Club, with the help of Nabard and Bank of India, to promote agricultural activities."
Since he started the club, the young farmer started conserving cauliflower seeds and in 2010, he gave them to the agriculture university.
Sanjeev - who is married to Kiran Singh and has two children, son Priyanshu and daughter Bhavna - cultivates cauliflowers on 3 acres of land. While a farmer can get a yield of not more than 1.5 quintal of cauliflower per acre using traditional methods, Sanjeev produces 2.5 quintal. An average farmer has an annual turnover of Rs 5 to 8 lakh; Sanjeev's annual income is up to Rs 18 lakh.
The award was confe-rred on him by the Union ministry of agriculture and farmers' welfare.
Sanjeev has been awarded the national silver medal by Indian Institute of Vegetable Research in 2009, among other honours.