We are back with our series of Farmer Scientists – amazing and inspirational stories of people who have developed indigenous and innovative techniques in agriculture without any formal training.
Today we talk about Charulata Biswal, a resident of Lodhani village in Odisha. She used a simple observation to come up with a unique solution to protect rice from insects. Given the acute shortage in foodgrain storage facilities in India, such micro solutions can preserve the harvests of the marginal farmers for whom every gram of wasted rice leads to heavy losses.
Charulata uses “Murhi” or “puffed Rice”- a low cost and eco friendly technique to preserve her scented rice from pests.She had her Eureka moment when once in her kitchen she observed that insects attacked grains of Murhi faster than rice. Murhi or puffed rice being softer in constituency than the hard rice, is more susceptible to being targeted by insects and maggots.
She decided to use her observation in preserving her scented rice from pests, insects and maggots.Generally farmers use chemical pesticides to prevent such situations. These chemical pesticides are not only costly, poisonous and polluting but also alters the original aroma and taste of rice. She does not use other traditional methods of using dried leaves of neem or negundo lest it should alter the taste and flavor of her rice.
So what she does is – in a bagful of rice she puts one – two kilo of puffed rice on the top and then sews it while storing it for months. When the bag is opened, maggots and insects dwell in the murhi, leaving the rice safe and intact.
Once she established the success of the method she discovered, she passed on the knowledge to other women to preserve rice, pulses and other grains.Now, others are also using this farmer scientist’s technique with success.