Government schemes in India

India being the production hub of makhana has witnessed a host of initiatives and incentive schemes being rolled out from time to time by the both the central as well the state governments. There has been a concentrated effort undertaken to boost and scale up makhana manufacturing by improving the entire supply chain right from the farmer and growers to when the product reaches the final consumers. 

In the last decade, makhana’s demand has crossed the domestic market and there has been an ever-increasing demand of this nutritious seeds in a host of countries including the USA, the UK, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand to name a few. 

The need to ramp up the makhana production for meeting both domestic and as well global demand for this nutritional non-cereal food led to a series of government interventions and change mechanisms. Introducing technological interventions, reduction of intermediaries in the supply chain, making the sector more organized, creating efficiencies in the marketing structure, and most importantly improving the socio-economic conditions of makhana growers. 

Central Government Schemes for Makhana

2014 became a game changing year from makhana or fox nut. It was during the election campaign that Prime Minister Modi vowed to boost the makhana cultivation, production and marketing in the Indian state of Bihar. Since Bihar was already a leading producer of this commercially grown cash crop, it made sense to give makhana a further boost. This proved as a boon to farmers as it increased their house hold incomes, helped them overcome perennial challenges for growing the crop.

Makhana farming literally got revolutionized in the last few years thanks to the commitment of the central government of India. 

As part of revolutionizing the farming methods, scientists at the coveted Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) developed a new seed of makhana known as ‘Suvarna Vaidehi’. The unique feature of this special seed was the ability to be sown and grown just like paddy. This further enabled inter-cropping for all makhana growers and farmers. 
The goal of “makhana revolution for Bihar was to have an all-round agricultural development, also termed as the ‘Second Green revolution’. The idea of this agricultural revolution was to pace up and provide impetus to all the states lagging in development in the eastern region of India.

The new seed ‘swarna vaidehi’ was initially tested in more than 100 hectares and was found to give high yields and was quite successful. The seed also enables very good crop and less harvesting time.  

It was also a part of the government strategy for ramping up the makhana production by strengthening the farmers, providing additional manpower and improving agricultural infrastructure at the Darbhanga-based Makhana Research Centre. More scientist to the research institute translates into faster research and implementation. 

The central Government in India, also helped a number of other eastern and north eastern like Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan etc. Last but not the least, the Bihar State Government Schemes for Makhana, Indian union finance minister also announced a major economic package of INR 20 lakh crores under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ during the COVID pandemic.  Makhana cluster in Bihar and the need to reorganize and restructure them and provide the necessary financial assistance was one of the areas covered in the package. Now that Makhana has been identified as the global health food, it only makes sense to further improve the conditions of the industry and all its stakeholders. 

Bihar State Government Initiatives

There have been a number of initiatives that the state government has taken over the last few years depending on the what was the need of the makhana growers, right from farmers, to processors, to wholesalers, to retailers etc. Some of the initiatives include:

 Stamp duty and registration fee waiver in lease/sale/transfer of land for setting up Units.

 Tax rebates and reimbursement of deposited amount for people setting up makhana farming and other infrastructure.

 Reimbursement on the capital investment on plant & machinery for captive power. 

 State level and district committees set up for approval of applications within stipulated time lines. 

 The Bihar State government also enabled a single window clearance system for the boosting the all agricultural produce including makhana. The idea of this system was to provide all entry level services with minimum interface with different government departments, fasten the whole process for farmers and other stakeholders in the supply chain. 

Makhana management through clusters in Bihar

The Bihar state government also introduced the cluster approach in various districts of Bihar to ramp up the production and also help farmers overcome the issues of makhana farming.  The state interventions for pacing up makhana production in these clusters include :

 Setting up of integrated facilities for makhana processing

 Building up capacity and improving links with marketing and products promotion teams

 Development of ponds 

 Intensive training of makhana growers and processors.

Districts in BiharMajor Makhana Clusters
DarbhangaBeroul, Benipur, Keoti, Manigachi, Sadar, Singhwara, Baheri, Alinagar.
MadhubaniRahika, Andhratarhi, Pandaul, Khajauli, Jhanjharpur, Ladaniya, Rajnagar and Bhisphi
KatiharKatihar, Korah, Manihari, Kadwa, Dhandkorah, Barari and Pranpur
PurniaPurnia East, Dagarwa, K.Nagar, Baisi and Kasba

The efforts taken in the laws few years have paid off, the socio-economic conditions of the farmers have improved, the health hazards have gone down, the harvesting time has reduced, the supply chain much leaner than before.

Looking at all the various measures taken by the Indian governments, pacing up of the research of this globally renowned lotus seed or gorgon nut, it is clear that the Government means business and is keen on rejigging the whole makhana industry in India. We have come a long way in the last decade and we have miles to go.