West Bengal farmers organise indigenous seed festival

Hundreds of farmers from different districts brought native varieties of paddy, pulses and vegetables and exchanged traditional knowledge

Updated - December 28, 2023 05:17 am IST

Published - December 28, 2023 04:51 am IST - Kolkata

Various native varieties of paddy kept at a stall at the seed festival held at Contai in Purba Medinipur recently. Photo: Special Arrangement

Various native varieties of paddy kept at a stall at the seed festival held at Contai in Purba Medinipur recently. Photo: Special Arrangement

Farmers from several districts of West Bengal organised an indigenous seed festival and took a pledge to conserve different varieties of native seeds. The festival, a one-of-its-kind, was held at Contai in Purba Medinipur earlier this month.

Hundreds of farmers from various districts brought indigenous varieties of paddy, pulses and vegetables, and exchanged traditional knowledge among themselves.

The festival was organised by ActionAid, a non-government organisation, along with Kajla Janakalyan Samiti and Purba Medinipur Kisan Swaraj Samity.

“This is a unique initiative where practising farmers exchanged their knowledge of indigenous seed varieties. ActionAid works in 22 States in India on the issue of climate resilience and sustainable farming. The seed festival was a step in that direction,” said Ashok Nayak, programme manager, ActionAid.

Seed bank plan

Mr. Nayak said the initiative is part of the climate justice campaign launched by ActionAid across India. “Interface between farmers will help in building discourse between climate change and organic farming, and will help us understand and systematically expand the access and control over indigenous seeds,” he added.

By organising the festival, the non-government organisations plan to build a seed bank in different parts of the State at the grassroots level.

Pradut Samanta is an organic farmer from Garbeta West Medinipur, who is working to revive traditional paddy. “This seed festival is a very pragmatic initiative because farmers are at the crossroads and have lost control over their input and made themselves vulnerable. They have also done lots of damage to their own soil, water as well as flora and fauna,” Mr. Samanta said.

Sailen Chandi, a national award-winning farmer from Shantipur Nadia, who is trying to revive traditional aromatic rice Radha Tilak, said: “Seeds have potential to provide safe food, recharge our biodiversity and stimulate our local economy. I am ambitious about this seed festival, it is so futuristic in its conviction.”

Organisers of the festival pointed out that with the climate change threat looming large, there is a need to protect indigenous varieties of seeds.

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