Preserving native seeds is a himalayan challenge given the rise of GMO seeds in the market. With more farmers looking for more yields in their farms without considering the negatives of the GMO seeds are destroying the native seeds in India and the region. We need to be more aware of the need to preserve and use native seeds and to spread the use of these seeds to more farmers across India.
Farmers are misguided by the big corporates trying to oust their commercial seeds for their own gains. They woo farms into believing that their seeds are the best and will yield more than other seeds. Lack of awareness leads farms to accept this and hence native seeds are used less now.
A few farmers are striving hard to preserve native seeds in India. Such farmers are a godsend. They not only help preserve the seeds but also distribute them at cost price so that others can benefit and do the same. We should encourage such farmers and their practices.
Once such farmer is Jai Prakash – An excerpt below from The Hindu
Jai Prakash Singh has won many awards for his work to preserve native seeds
A Varanasi farmer, Jai Prakash Singh, is a proud recipient of three awards — two from former Presidents in 2002 and 2009, and the Plant Genome award from the government for his outstanding role in preserving hundreds of native seed varieties.
The farmer has to his credit about 460 paddy, 120 wheat, 30 pulse and four mustard varieties, many of which have been approved by the government to be used by other growers.
They include a wheat variety that yields more than seven tonnes from a hectare and a long-duration paddy variety that can be harvested in 130 days (long-duration paddy generally takes about 150 to 160 days to harvest). Many agriculture and research institutions across the country have conducted research on his findings.
The farmer distributes his seeds and gets a signed document from buyers saying they will sell the seeds at the same price to others.
“This is an endeavour on my part to ensure that seeds are available at an affordable price to many small and poor farmers,” he says. ‘More needs to be done’
Mr. Prakash, however, is not happy with the government’s attitude towards native seed preservation.
“The government must realise that preserving and using native seeds are the hope of our country’s future if it is serious about overcoming food shortage. The importance given to GM seeds and the cost of their cultivation make me wonder if all my work in the last 25 years was worth it.”
Mr. Prakash recently participated in a National Seed Saviours exhibition in New Delhi where hundreds of native seeds from different parts of the country were exhibited.