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A farmer who has made a difference

M.J. Prabu
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Jai Prakash Singh has won many awards for his work to preserve native seeds

Jai Prakash Singh.— Photo: Special arrangement
Jai Prakash Singh.— Photo: Special arrangement

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.


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