Celebrating Rice Diversity!
Here's a different picture - A picture of that celebrates the beauty and diversity of 354 varieties of paddy! Yes 354! This is the seed diversity block of Soumik Banerjee (friend, researcher, seed conserver, indefatigable seeker & bottomless well of knowledge on all things indigenous) in Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh. As he says this is uniting South Asia with the seed diversity block...
"from Indus to Irawady, from Pir panjal to the Indian Ocean".
Working on seed conservation since ten years Soumik saves seed for the future - conserving the rare, the regular, the black, the white, the short duration to the long duration paddy varieties. Year after year the seeds are grown out and farmers come to see, collect seeds, grow it out in their fields, carrying forward the seeds into the next generation.
This work is arduous, requires the seed conserver's presence in the field during the whole season, the ability to work in the field and to do meticulous documentation to do justice to the conservation efforts . The seed saver farmer has to be present during harvest to ensure that every variety is carefully harvested by hand and dried separately with the numbers so that the varieties are not mixed up. As a researcher cum seed saver farmer Soumik has been working not only on his seed diversity block but also helping other seed saver farmers with their characterisation and documentation of the varieties.
But the arduous work of seed conservers like Soumik and many of our farmers will not be complete without us! It is by eating these heritage grains, adding more diversity into our plates and palates that we can complete the virtuous cycle of seed conservation.
So what can we do as consumers ?
Add a heritage rice a week,
Experiment with traditional wheat,
Try a millet a month -
With each little change we make, we will be partnering with Soumik and other seed conservers to stop countless varieties from sinking into oblivion
Bio Basics is committed to sourcing grains from seed conserver farmers so that while eating heritage, organically grown food we also contribute to agrobiodiversity conservation.
We also need to support these conservation efforts as the farmers are spending money that they can I'll afford to do to keep these diversity blocks going. If you would like to know more please reach out to our Co Founder Devi who has been working with these initiatives for over a decade and half.
Pic credits: Soumik Banerjee
The first picture is a drone shot of the rice diversity block. 2,3,4,5 are images of the diversity block at various stages of growth.