Karnataka

Mandya farmer’s quest to preserve agrarian heritage

S. Bore Gowda and his wife Hemavathi on their farm at Shivalli in Mandya district.

S. Bore Gowda and his wife Hemavathi on their farm at Shivalli in Mandya district.

A farmer from Mandya has bagged the Plant Genome Saviour Award in recognition of his efforts to conserve the indigenous variety of paddy and agrarian heritage.

Meet S. Bore Gowda, a farmer from Shivalli in Mandya district, whose journey from a farmer engaged in farming practices that focused on use of chemical fertilizers to that of a rice conservator and seed saver, has won him a fan following.

It was an accidental fall and an injury in 1989 that was the turning point for Mr. Bore Gowda who was advised surgery. But he refused, got himself discharged against medical advice and took to yoga which gradually healed his injury. “While studying and practising yoga I was not only cured of the pain and injury but learnt that the food we eat also has a bearing on our health. As I delved deeper into the topic, I realised that the food we grow is laced with chemicals and hence switched over to organic and natural methods of farming,” he said.

Over the years, he realised the rich agrarian tradition of the State and the country was getting obliterated owing to emphasis on monoculture and cultivation of high yielding varieties to the exclusion of indigenous paddy. His journey as a rice conservator began and by 2008 he not only had a sizeable collection of indigenous varieties of paddy but was now experimenting as rice breeder.

“I crossed two varieties of rice to create a new one and named it ‘Siddasanna’ – after my father, Sidde Gowda, and mother, Sannamma,” said Mr. Bore Gowda who is also known as ‘Bhattada Bore Gowda’ in his circles. “I knew nothing of crossing and breeding but was helped by Sahaja Samruddha, an organisation advocating cultivation and conservation of indigenous variety of seeds,” he added. The Siddasanna variety has proved to be popular, and over 2,000 farmers are growing this variety which is easy to cultivate, resistant to pests and diseases, suitable for cultivation in different seasons and tastes good. Mr. Bore Gowda has also established a rice museum at his house in Shivalli where 210 varieties are on display. The museum, established in 2009, has a steady stream of visitors and both paddy grain and paintings of traditional agricultural systems are displayed.

In recognition of his contribution, Mr. Bore Gowda – who is also the Director of Desi Seeds Producer Company Ltd, a farmer-owned seed company – was awarded the Plant Genome Saviour Award instituted by Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Rice Authority, Government of India in New Delhi last week.


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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 3:39:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/mandya-farmers-quest-to-preserve-agrarian-heritage/article37497492.ece