Published: BBC News, July 24, 2013

Photo Credit: Prashant Ravi

A farmer in the northern Indian state of Bihar is using magic shows to promote organic farming, Amarnath Tewary reports from Govindpur village in Muzaffarpur district.

Shreekant Kushwaha, in his late 40s, is a farmer who is a trained magician and has been using his skills to convince farmers in the state to convert to organic farming methods.

In the last few years, he has conducted more than 1,000 magic shows and converted thousands of farmers to organic farming to “increase both their yield and incomes”.

“Magic and farming are both science and need use of hands for their execution. Both become obsolete if denied new tricks,” he says.

Most of his magic shows begin with some popular trick like making a small ball vanish into air, or pulling a pigeon out of a hat.

“Once I’ve grabbed the attention of the crowd, I go for the real thing,” he says.

“I show them two boxes and tell them that one box has seeds with organic fertiliser while the other has seeds with synthetic fertiliser. Then I put a lid over both the boxes and say let’s see which grows faster.

“When the lid is lifted, the seeds treated with organic fertiliser seem to have grown into small plants but those treated with synthetic fertiliser have not grown at all,” he says.

“And then I explain why and how it is done.”

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