Bihar, a largely agrarian economy contributes a sizeable share to India’s annual production of paddy, wheat, maize, lentils, chickpea, sugarcane, jute, mango, banana, litchi, jackfruit, guava, grass pea and now moringa. It is estimated that Bihar has the highest proportion of total land put to agricultural use in India.
The cropping pattern seen in the four agro-ecological zones namely Zone-I North Alluvial Plain, Zone-II North East Alluvial Plain, Zone-III A South East Alluvial Plain and Zone-III B South West Alluvial Plain reveals that small and marginal farmers prefer to intercrop their pulses with cash crops to ensure that they have steady income to tide over droughts and floods.
It is interesting to note that in recent years there has been a spurt in the cultivation of moringa in the fertile Sheohar district given its numerous health benefits. Sheohar district falls under the catchment area of Bagmati River and has medium to deep black soil, hot summers, high humidity and cool winters that is conducive for the cultivation of moringa.
Moringa, a fast-growing and drought-resistant tree can be grown throughout the year making it extremely popular with famers who say that the investment is low and productivity is high. Value-added products like moringa powder, moringa pills, moringa oil and moringa tea are now making their way into the market as prescribed health foods.
Drumstick and its pods and flowers are used in local delicacies. It has now been discovered that intake of drumstick plant leaves increases the milk output of cows and buffaloes and also protects the cattle from several diseases.
All parts of the moringa can be used for food, medicine and fodder. Traditional species of drumstick plants are now grown along with hybrid varieties in a bid to earn profit by cultivating them on vacant lands.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)