Patna (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Braving the rain and into the mud, the students of a Jesuit college took part in the cultivation of organic rice at the Tarumitra reserve in Patna (Bihar). The students from the St. Xavier's College of Management and Technology offered themselves as volunteers, to get to know the system of rice intensification (Sri), a "green" cultivation method that uses less water and - especially - less chemicals.
Developed in 1983 by the French Jesuit Henri de Laulanié in Madagascar and published by Norman Uphoff, Cornell University professor, since the 1990s, SRI has sought to respond to the global food crisis, while respecting the environment.
The students have filed hundreds of bags of dry leaves, to be used as an organic fertilizer. Then they had a competition to see who could plant the most seedlings. One student, Preeti, spoke of how it was his first experience in the cultivation of rice.
Another student Uday Kumar, said: "In Punjab the 'green revolution' carried out with pesticides has resulted in a train called 'Cancer Express', which runs daily between Bathinda and Bikaner. Here in Bihar we can avoid the experience of the Punjab, if we invest in organic farming. "
Because of the 'green revolution', the Punjab is one of the Indian states that most uses pesticides and chemical fertilizers in agriculture. In recent years, the area of Bhatinda has recorded many cases of cancer among farmers, all linked to the pollution produced by the abuse of these chemical substances. For this the train that connects the town to the Bikaner oncology hospital, was called "Cancer Express".
Tarumitra ("Friends of Trees") is an Indian student organization that, nationwide, is responsible for raising public awareness on various environmental issues. Founded in 1988 in Patna, in Bihar, it has over 200 thousand members in more than 1,000 high schools and colleges.
In 2011 the NGO started to deal with organic farming. With a plot of land donated by the Jesuits in the area, members have established a bio-reserve. It has a rare collection of over 400 rare species of trees and plants typical of northern India.