Meet the person who is promoting the cultivation of rare varieties of paddy, gives free seeds to the farmers

Since the onset of monsoon, the main crop of Kharif season in the country is the cultivation of paddy (Paddy Farming) is started. Every year farmers are using new varieties of seeds. But, have you ever wondered which varieties of paddy are cultivated in earlier times. What are the varieties that have become extinct? The traditional varieties of paddy which were cultivated in the country are now disappearing. The amount of nutrients in those varieties of paddy was very good. But, after increasing the burden of higher production, the cultivation of improved varieties of paddy (Dhan Ki Kheti) started. But now once again the work is being done to bring the old varieties to the fields. Debal Deb, an ecological scientist, is doing this work.

It was started in the year 1991. When the biodiversity of trees considered sacred in Jebal Deb (South Bengal)Biodervisity) was doing the survey. During this, he saw that the pregnant wife of a tribal farmer was drinking the bread of cooked Bhutmuri rice. Because they used to think that by drinking this rice bran, women could be cured of serious diseases like anemia. Debal Deb then began to conduct extensive research on rare, indigenous rice varieties and their benefits.

Basudha’s Establishment

After this, it was his life’s mission to collect rare and valuable varieties of rice with the farmers, as well as to re-cultivate them. His efforts came to an end in 2001, when he founded Basudha Farms. Initially the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies was established at Bankura as a field station. Today, it is a 1.7-acre farm in a tribal village, surrounded by forests and hills, in the Bissum Cuttack block of Rayagada district in southern Odisha.

How many varieties of rice were there in India

According to the Telegraph India, rice scientist RH Richaria, till the 1970s, there were more than 1,10,000 different varieties of rice in India. Around that time, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) gave some high yielding rice varieties to the Indian government and urged farmers to replace indigenous varieties with them.

After discovering a lack of documentation, Deb began a survey of surviving native varieties in 1994. After completing his research in 2006, he realized that 90 percent of those varieties had disappeared. After being denied help by the government and several private institutions, he decided to work alone towards his mission of conservation and planting, which turned out to be Basudha.

Seeds are given to farmers for free

After this he established a non-government paddy seed bank in Odisha with his own efforts. Under this program, Deb started increasing the non-commercial exchange of old varieties of rice to establish a culture of indigenous seeds. These rare seeds are individually germinated in earthen pots and irrigated with cow urine before being distributed to farmers. Any farmer can get any indigenous variety of rice free of cost by giving an old variety of rice in the seed bank. Debal Deb’s seed bank started with 21 varieties in 1998 and has grown to 1,440 by 2021. His target is that by 2019, more than 7,600 farmers would join it.

Seed bank has this rare variety of seeds

The seed bank has some amazing varieties of paddy sourced from all over India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand, Korea, Philippines and Italy. Apart from this, the only rice in the world in which there is a silver content in its grain. It is a crop variety and can grow in 3 meters deep water. There are also 15 such species that are salt-tolerant, some of which can grow in sea water. If there are 12 such species, then it happens even in drought.

Get the latest news updates on Agriculture