indianarrative

Self-driven Odisha farmer creates organic seed bank of his own

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Sudam Sahu in his seed bank where he has preserved more than 1,000 varieties of organic and local seeds

Just as important it is to eat what is locally grown so it is vital to grow with seeds which are indigenous and organic and not created through science.

Now Odisha’s farmer, who farms only with indigenous and organic seeds, has done something unique – he has taken steps to preserve them.

Hailing from Odisha’s Bargarh district Sahu has taken a noteworthy step to preserve indigenous seed varieties in a seed he has created. So far he has collected and preserved more than 1,100 seed varieties in his bank. He has been at it for 20 years now.

Sahu hails from Katapali village which comes under Baragarh Sadar block of the Bargarh district and has studied till Class XII. As his family was not affluent and they had to suffer hunger pangs, Sahu after finishing his schooling decided to become a farmer. He opted for organic farming and started his collection of local and indigenous seeds.

His collection now includes more than 1,100 paddy seeds and also green and vegetable seeds to a tune of 65, and 16 pulses and oil seeds. His also has has 34 international varieties of  paddy seeds that he got from the International Rice Research Institute in Philippines.

All these varieties are carefully stored in the first floor of his house.

Going beyond collecting seeds, he has also created six varieties of paddy seeds through cross germination.

His collection has grown by leaps and bounds since 2008 when he started training farmers in organic and sustainable farming methods. “As I visited several places within the state as well as to other states, I asked the students there to get me the indigenous seeds of their place.”

The seed collector has made a name for himself by mobilising farmers to grow black rice which is highly nutritious. He now has 14 varieties of black rice.

Wanting to help farmers he observed: “My purpose behind developing a seed bank was to provide the farmers of our region with a large choice of seed varieties. I wish to develop more such seed banks in other districts in near future.”

Sharing details about his passion for collecting seeds Sahu told news18.com: “Farmers have to depend on the Government for seeds which are very expensive. I thought of saving the country seeds. If we use these seeds, it will be less expensive and yield much more harvest. Keeping this in mind, I had started the drive in 2001. Initially I started with two varieties of seeds. Now I have 1,100 varieties of indigenous seeds. The purpose is to provide the farmers variety and to preserve age-old indigenous seeds. My life is full of struggle. I have had to battle for food. Now we are able to eat varieties of rice".

Proud of his Sudam’s father Iswar Sahu remarked: “He is very hard-working and helps us in agricultural activities. He had got a job in excise department but quit that because he wanted to pursue organic farming."