When rice harvest from the kharif (summer) crops surged to an estimated 100 million tonnes in 2011, policymakers knew they had quietly pulled off a much-needed milestone -- a second version of the green revolution in India's east.
Acknowledging the feat, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee raised the annual funding for a "green revolution in eastern India" from Rs. 400 crore to Rs. 1,000 crore for 2012-13.
With the gradual weakening of the 70s green revolution, which had transformed India into a nation that was finally able to feed itself, planners knew it was time to turn the foot-dragging eastern part of India into the next food bowl for its ever-increasing population.
Rising consumption and flattening yields in the country's traditional breadbasket (Punjab and Haryana) prompted the government to look east. The region, with fertile soil and abundant rainfall, was being seen as the country's next agricultural powerhouse.
Roughly two years of work has finally paid off. Bihar has doubled its rice output from 3 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes, while Jharkhand has trebled production from 1.1 million tonnes to 3.3 million tonnes.
"Overall, the eastern states have produced 7 million more tonnes of rice," said PK Basu, India's agriculture secretary.
In order to make better progress on agricultural research, the government recruited the help of the country's biggest institutes.
Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar sought scientific monitoring from the Directorate of Rice Research and Central Rice Research Institute, whose scientists reportedly visited their "assigned districts once in every fortnight".
The programme aims to step up agriculture, mainly that of rice, in Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and some parts of eastern UP.