May 14, 2010

Creating his own seed bank for traditional millets

It is amazing to see how farmers begin conserving traditional seeds once they become aware of its importance. Ishwarappa Bankar of Hire Yadachi village of Haveri district in Karnataka has created a seed bank of traditional millet strains at his home. Drawing inspiration from Vijay Jardhari of Beej Bachao Andolan in Uttarakhand, Banakar has collected 25 varieties of jowar, 30 of finger millet, and 10 of foxtail millet besides some others.

This is certainly a remarkable initiative. If some farmers can replicate what Banakar has been able to achieve, probably we would be able to recover quite a lot of the lost plant germplasm. In 2010, when the world dedicates the year to conservation of biodiversity, such small but dedicated efforts need to be appreciated and applauded.

Pasted below is the report from Deccan Herald (May 11, 2010). In addition, you may also like to follow Vijay Jardhari's work in Uttarakhand. This report from The Pioneer ably brings out the understanding behind the traditional practice of 'barahnaja', which literally means 12 seeds at a time.

This farmer has a seed bank at home

Ananda Teertha Pyati

Decades ago, millets formed an important traditional crop. They not only give food security, but also offer multiple securities like fodder and fuel. With the introduction of commercial crops like paddy and wheat, farmers forgot about millets. “I remember my childhood where we depended only on millets for our meals,” recalls Ishwarappa Banakar of Hire Yadachi village of Haveri district. Later on, Ishwarappa, much like other farmers, took to growing commercial crops. Every time there was a drought or a flood, he incurred losses.

But last year,he went to Pune and participated in an organic fair. There, he was exposed to varieties of traditional crops and organic farming methods.

Vijay Jardhari, a farmer from the Dehradun region was the centre of attraction at the fair, where he exhibited more than 100 varieties of beans and many types of vegetables of his region. Inspired by Jardhari’s efforts on conservation of local seeds, Ishwarappa decided to grow traditional crops. Ishwarappa Banakar has setup a millet seedbank in his home. This is the first millet seed bank set up by an individual farmer in the state.

View of millet seed bank

This bank has 25 varieties of jowar, 30 varieties of finger millet,10 varieties of foxtail millet, five varieties of little millet and two varieties each of kodo millet, proso millet and pearl millet.

[Thanks to Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samrudha and Kuldeep Ratnoo of for providing these links]

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