When the words ‘miracle’ and ‘crops’ show up in the same sentence, some type of genetic modification is typically involved. However, when it comes to the story of Sumant Kumar and his rice crop, only all-natural, non-genetically modified processes were used. By applying only manure and no herbicides, Kumar was able to produce the largest amount of rice on one hectare of land in history.

A modest farmer in the village of Darveshpura, Sumant Kumar never expected to create world records with his rice crop. He anticipated a good season due to the heavy rains his village had experienced, but he never could have imagined producing the amount of rice that he yielded. Through all-natural means, Kumar grew 22.4 tons of rice on just one hectare of land. To prove just how wild this amount is, this farmer typically yielded 4 to 5 tons of rice per hectare previously.

Why is this feat so incredibly impressive and important? First, this everyday farmer was able to produce the world’s greatest amount of rice without dabbling in genetics or unnatural means. His 22.4 tons beat Yuan Longping, an agricultural scientist otherwise known as the “father of rice.” Kumar’s weighty amount of rice also surpassed the International Rice Research Institute, a group of scientists funded by the World Bank. Essentially, his all-natural and modest way of farming created a miracle not even biotech seed companies are able to produce. While Kumar did have the greatest amount of rice, his fellow farmers Krishna, Sanjay, Bijay, and Nitish all had crops weighing over 17 tons as well. Again, this number is at least double of what is considered typical for the area. The second reason this feat is so important is because of the significance rice has throughout the world. For at least half of the global population, rice is a staple food eaten at almost every meal. With hunger being such a worldwide issue, a change in rice production like Kumar’s, could have an enormous impact.

While you may say, “Oh, that must have been a fluke,” think again. Many scientists and citizens thought the same thing, leading to inspections of the crops. Upon inspection, everything appeared to be as Kumar claimed and soon, more success stories began popping up. Shortly after Kumar’s super rice, his neighbor, Nitish, ended up with a crop of potatoes that demolished the previous world record. Then, another villager broke the record in India for wheat growth. The small village of Darveshpura was dubbed the “miracle village” of India, and everyone wanted in on their secret.

John Vidar of The Observer had the chance to speak with the young farmers about their miracle crops. Nitish Kumar, when asked about his success, replied, “In previous years, farming has not been very profitable. Now I realize that it can be. My whole life has changed. I can send my children to school and spend more on health. My income has increased a lot.” The other farmers in the area are experiencing this success, not from a secret in the soil, but instead a secret to their crop growing system. To grow the crops, a process called the “System of Rice Intensification” is used. Most rice farmers throughout the world plant three week old rice seeds in water-saturated fields. Instead of doing this, the villagers of Darveshpura opted to plant about half as many seeds and transplant them individually and at a much earlier time. They also spaced the seedlings in a grid-like pattern. By doing so, the area was drier and weeding was easier to manage. This system has proven to be effective time and time again, and the villagers of Darveshpura are certainly reaping the benefits.

This Indian miracle is important for a multitude of reasons. Thankfully, the villagers are able to feed and take care of their families, and their ways of farming may lead to great changes in rice crops and other crops around the world. With these substantial changes in growth, we may just be getting that much closer to solving the issue of hunger and poverty throughout the world. Here’s to hoping!

- Elizabeth K.

Image courtesy of Flickr.