Native seeds and biodiversity

A nation’s biodiversity is as robust as its seeds. Read the stories of farmers who are working to preserve native seeds that will promote and sustain our biodiversity. Despite the might of multinational seed companies and a warming and drier climate, they are the people determinedly sowing a revolution which will positively impact our food security.

Curated by Riya Behl

Sowing the seeds of climate crisis in Odisha

by Chitrangada Choudhury and Aniket Aga
This story explains the devastating and dangerous impact of shifting from indigenous seeds to genetically-modified Bt cotton. It traces the history of Bt cotton in Odisha to understand the human, social, ecological and legal consequences of this shift.
Rayagada, Odisha

Keepers of the seeds

by Sweta Daga
In Ghati village near Udaipur, Chamnibai Meena has been saving local seeds and preserving indigenous knowledge since she was a little girl. “Women save seeds better. They care for them, and remember to replenish them,” she said, adding, “They are the most important part of a farmer’s life.” A photo-story with all the details of the process.
Udaipur, Rajasthan

Kirugavalu’s desi ‘farming scientist’

by Manjula Masthikatte
Syed Ghani Khan, a paddy farmer in Mandya, Karnataka, cultivates only indigenous varieties using organic methods. He has collected 700 indigenous paddy varieties from all over India, engaging in a sort of barter system with farmers from Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Mandya, Karnataka

Patraput's saviour of indigenous seeds

by Harinath Rao Nagulavancha
Kamala Pujhari shows us the process of seed conservation – an uphill task when many varieties of paddy in her village have vanished. Kamala, who is in her late 60s and from the Bhumia Adivasi community, received the Padma Shri in recognition of her work in 2019.
Koraput, Odisha

The Barefoot Conservator

by Chitrangada Choudhury
Once upon a time India was estimated to have over 70,000 rice land races (varieties) Today, 75 per cent of India’s rice production comes from less than 10 varieties - aggressively pushed, input-intensive hybrids. But at least one farmer in Rayagada, Odisha, is working against this devastating and irreversible genetic erosion from India’s agricultural fields - Debal Deb’s seed conservation bank is home to over 1000 varieties of rice which he actively propagates and shares.
Rayagada, Odisha

Politics of Seeds: Common Resource or a Private Property

by Afsar Jafri
A nation’s agriculture is as strong as its seed system. Seeds store the keys to bio-diversity and resilience to climate change, are repositories of cultural knowledge, reflect historical breeding practices, and symbolise food security, says this 2018-report.
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