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A Journey from a Struggling Farmer to Biofortification Champion

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28 March 2024, Muzaffarpur: Jitender Kumar, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Emadhuwan Farmers Producer Organization (FPO) is an inspiring entrepreneur in Madhuban, East Champaran, Bihar, India. A graduate of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur, Jitender is pioneering the cultivation of biofortified zinc wheat—transforming the landscape of nutrition and farming in the region.

Jitender’s journey to farming was inspired by the lack of job opportunities despite his degree. His turning point came when Jitender discovered biofortified zinc wheat’s potential through the Bihar Odisha Nutrition Initiative (BONI), a project led by HarvestPlus. “When I first held the zinc wheat seeds in my hand, I saw more than a new crop; I saw a future for our farming community. It was our opportunity to escape the constant low yield and low income,” he shares.

Recognizing the superior nutritional value and market demand for zinc wheat, Jitender mobilized fellow farmers and founded Emadhuwan FPO with a mission to transform his community’s agricultural practices and promoting biofortified crops.

For Jintender, forming Emadhuwan FPO was about improving the lives of the entire community. HarvestPlus provided training and technical support to the FPO members, leveraging the expertise of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVY) non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and Agriculture Department officials. Furthermore, HarvestPlus supplied high quality wheat, lentil, paddy, and millet seed for demonstration and commercial purposes. The initiative’s impact has been profound. Starting with a modest distribution of 400 kilograms of zinc wheat seeds to 40 farmers in the Rabi season of 2020-21, the FPO has grown exponentially.

By the second Rabi season (2021-22), it had scaled up to commercial levels, distributing 9.5 metric tons of seeds to 250 farmers across East Champaran, Sheohar, and Muzaffarpur districts of Bihar, achieving a turnover of over USD 53,204 and a net benefit of USD 2,418. HarvestPlus supported this exponential growth by promoting seed awareness among farmers through training sessions, exposure visits, field days, and crop-cutting events. The activities involved government officials at district and block levels, progressive farmers, NGOs, farmer interest groups, and JEEViKA groups, aiming to enhance knowledge and practices related to seed usage and its benefits.

The success story continued. In the Rabi season of 2022-23, the FPO received 15 metric tons of biofortified wheat seed, achieving a turnover of USD 62,772, a net benefit of USD 3621, and expanded its services to include microfinance and agricultural machinery hiring, benefiting its 400 shareholders.

Looking ahead, Jitender has ambitious plans for the FPO, aiming to extend microfinance support to even more farmers, with a target limit of USD 120,939 in the financial year 2023-24. This vision is backed by deep gratitude towards HarvestPlus and the BONI project, whose unwavering support has been key in Emadhuwan FPO’s success.

Also Read: Sonalika Launches Sikander DLX DI 60 Torque Plus Multi-Speed Tractor; Declares Same Price For Farmers Across India

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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