Darbhang-The Mkhaan Hub

Today Mkhaan or Fox Nut is known to be a wonder not not just in India but even in International shores. Known for many health Benefits, Mkhaan is packed with the goodness of Calcium, Proteins, phosphorous, potassium etc. It is in the recent times that the  people globally, have woken up to this super food. 

Not many know that that this black diamond’s origin goes back to 200 years in Bihar in a small region of Darbhang. In 18th Century, under the kingship of King Darbhanga, Mkhaan was cultivated in Madhubani and Darbhanga. At that time, the farmers who cultivated Mkhaan used to get a profit of Rs. 3 per acre.  Darbhang is the Motherland of Mkhaan seeds and Mkhaan flakes. In those times, farmers used very traditional methods to cultivate Mkhaan in Darbhang. 

However, today, it is altogether a different story. Darbhanga has become a renowned name when it comes to Mkhaan cultivation. Government is also backing the farmers of Darbhang to promote he cultivation of Mkhaan. With new initiatives like “Swarna vaidehi”, Government is helping farmers with High quality yield and productivity. 

As pr recent announcement, Darbhang will be honoured with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag which will give a boost to exporting of Mkhaan produced in Darbhanga to across the world. The criteria of a region getting GI tag is that the produce has to be originated in that particular place and extensive quality tests take place before GI tag is awarded to any place. In Bihar, GI tag will be awarded only to Darbhang in spite of other districts coveting for this status.

In Darbhanga, cultivation for Mkhaan seeds and Mkhaan flakes take place in clusters like Nehra, Jagnathpur,Amai Jagdishpur, Manigachi, Darbhanga contributes 40% to the total production of Mkhaan in the state of Bihar. 3500 MT of mkhaan is traded annually in Darbhang and this figure will only rise in future. 

Darbhanga – Climatic and Geographical Factors

Mkhaan is typically cultivated in tropical regions of India. Bihar has the perfect climate to cultivate Mkhaan in the March lands of Darbhanga. climate over here is cooler and damper than that in the adjoining districts. The climate and land of Darbhanga both are very suitable for cultivation of Mkhaan. It is also blessed with perennial rivers that offer a suitable condition for growth of Mkhaan. Even today, farmers mostly use the traditional methods of cultivation of Mkhaan in Darbhanga. Mkhaan is grown in ponds, tanks, ditches, lakes etc. 

Economical Conditions In Darbhanga

Darbhanga heavily depends upon Agriculture as a source of livelihood. Mkhaan cultivation is the major contributor to the economy of this district. Apart from Mkhaan, Darbhanga is also engaged in Fisheries, Handloom & Handicrafts, Madhubani Paintings. It is also involved in cultivation of mangoes, sugar cane, litchi, paddy etc. Darbhanga is also an important trade centre with Nepal for sugar, silk, cotton, tobacco etc. 

  • Bihar contributes almost 90 % of world production of Mkhaan and in this Darbhanga has a huge pie. According to an official figure, around 25000 metric tonnes of mkhaan are produced per year in Bihar with an annual turnover of Rs 300 crores.
  • With GI tag, Darbhanga is exporting Mkhaan to rest of the world. Manufacturers are packaging and marketing Mkhaan cultivated in Darbhanga and exporting to western countries.
  • Darbhanga is one of the most important trade centres in Bihar for Mkhaan with five major wholesaler’s who procure the Mkhaan seeds and pops from farmers. They then process them and distribute to different states through trucks and trains.
  • Farmers who are still engaged in traditional practices for cultivation of Mkhaan seeds and Mkhaan pops face health threats and do not have the apt infrastructure and warehouses to store their produce. Due to this, a lot of people migrate to other states for their livelihood.

Government Initiatives

Recognising the problems faced by farmers living on meagre income, Government is providing farmers with credit and technology. Researchers are working on finding ways for better farming solutions like Aquaculture that are more sustainable, environment friendly and also good for the health of farmers. It also helps in cutting on time taken in production of Mkhaan.

  • Bihar Government wants to boost the sales and exports of Mkhaan in a big way. This will not only help the economic status of the State of Bihar but also help in gaining employment for farmers, processors, wholesaler’s, traders and retailers. There is still a lot of untapped opportunities in the cultivation of Mkhaan but also in countries like China, Korea, Europe and U.S.
  • This demand will increase exponentially in the coming years and regions like Darbhanga have to be well prepared to meet up the global demands with technological advancement for better productivity of Mkhaan. Government has recognised the rise in demand of the wonder nut not just in India Recently, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has directed the Government officials of the agriculture department for ensuring maximum protection of Mkhaan, litchi and honey.
  • Government also understands the problems faced by farmers like limited areas for cultivation of Mkhaan seeds and flakes. Farmers also do not have the apt knowledge on management practices. Weed management and limited resources also pose as a threat to the Mkhaan cultivation.  

Bihar Government is backing Mkhaan production with new economic packages for the state specially Darbhanga. Agriculture Minister of Bihar then Dr Prem Kumar said: “Bihar is excited about Mkhaan production with the announcement of a package of Rs 10,000 crore for branding local crops. Arrangements are being made for production, branding and marketing in the cluster by forming farmers groups”. This shows, Government’s commitment towards ensuring Growth of cultivation, exports of Mkhaan to the rest of the world.

Different Names of Mkhaan
History of Mkhaan

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