Article Siddharudh Savayava Krishikara Balaga - 42 farmers come together to preserve native seeds

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    Preserves paddy, millet and vegetable seeds. Located at Gundenatti village, Belgaum district, Karnataka

    “We like-minded 42 farmers came together for safeguarding our native seeds. We formed Siddharudh Savayava Krishikara Balaga in 2008. We have successfully preserved 70-80 traditional varieties of paddy, few varieties of millets and vegetables. Our efforts have been recognized by The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA). The Central Government undertaking has felicitated us with prestigious Plant Genome Savior Farmer Award in 2015. We received cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh,” shares Mr. Bheemappa Basavanyappa Kilari. He holds the position of President in the farmers’ group.
    Siddharudh Savayava Krishikara Balaga Bheempa a.jpg
    Mr. Bheemappa worked as a teacher in Government School at Belgaum district. Post retirement he turned into full time farmer and started conserving native seeds. “Before 1972, we had only traditional varieties of crops grown in our Gundenatti village, Belgaum district, Karnataka but around 1985 many traditional varieties were lost due to draught and water scarcity. In addition, in that period, there came ‘sugarcane kranti’, where all the farmers started cultivating sugarcane as many sugar factories came up. Our village became land of sugarcane instead of land of paddy. It ruined it all as native paddy seeds were wiped off! Farmers started buying rice, grains and pulses from market which they earlier produced in their own fields. They only cultivated sugarcane to be sold to the factories. They even cut down the trees and plants for making space for growing sugarcane. Narrow thinking always makes the man pay hefty price and same happened with the farmers! Gradually they lost everything to the short term attraction of sugarcane factories! Hopefully we shall be able revive the lost varieties of different food crops,” he elaborates.

    Few of the paddy varieties conserved till date are nadanthara saali, kemp saali, sugandha saali, nauli salli, dodiga(100 years old), bangarakaddi, doddabattha etc. Jowar varieties preserved are bijapur jowar, maladandiga, aralina jola etc. Vegetable seeds secured are bottle gourd, jawari ridge gourd, jawari bitter gourd, pumpkin, sweet pumpkin etc. “Millets we have are ragi, baragu, navani and saave, etc,” he asserts.

    Some of the paddy varieties possess medicinal properties. Sharing the examples he says, “Kari hakkala saali treats typhoid, kari gazavili is consumed for curing post partum, asode, hejje, ratna saali, kari gidda useful for diabetes. Dodiga, porridge is useful for fever, allergy etc. Kumkum saali, husk are useful for constipation. Navra paddy cures nervous disability.”

    The seeds are collected in April-May after travelling extensively in remote areas. These are stored in the seed bank for 2months until June-July, time for sowing. Seeds are stored with proper documentation like variety name, date and origin place. “We dry the seeds naturally without chemicals taking precautionary measures from pest or rodents. We soak paddy seeds in 10% salt water for 12hours. Then wash with fresh water and dry in shade. By soaking seeds in salt water removes infection. In other seeds we add neem or nilgri leaves in the seed bag for prevention but for paddy we do not even add these leaves,” he informs.

    Mr. Bheemappa receives assistance from fellow farmers in paddy variety collection. “Initially we get only a handful sample that is later multiplied. Seeds can be conserved when it is cultivated consistently. Each one of our group member grows atleast 1-2 varieties. We also give confidence to other farmers to grow these traditional paddy varieties. Farmers from neighbouring districts also buy seeds from us for cultivation. We sell the seeds depending on the variety, quantity and demand. We sell at a price ranging from Rs. 25-40/kg. We sell anything between 1-5kgs per order,” he says.

    In his own farm Mr. Siddharudh is growing sundara saali, rajamudi, mugadha sugandha varieties of paddy. Yield obtained is 10-12qunitals per acre. “These are special traditional varieties hence have limited customers. Moreover these traditional varieties are not for mass selling instead has selective clientele who like the taste and are aware of its benefits,” he highlights. Farming is done using natural farming practices. “Our village is considered as organic village since 2012-14 by Karnataka Government. To motivate the farmers and upgrade our skills Government provides us training.” Village has attained good reputation in the agriculture commodity market hence traders and corporate business house visit us regularly to buy our farm products.

    Only challenge faced is water scarcity. “We follow organic farming practice so water requirement is less but it is still needed! We manage with bore-wells. We cultivate paddy only in monsoon and never post monsoon. We grow some vegetables, dicots like green gram, black gram, urad gram, wheat in post monsoon. We intercrop ragi with paddy. We can grow much more if water is available!”

    Sharing future plans he concludes, “We want train other fellow farmers about organic farming and motivate youth to pursue farming instead of doing odd jobs. We shall be constructing our own building for seed bank and training centre with the prize money of Rs. 10 lakh. Also we would set up a demonstrative farm to showcase agriculture is profitable. Lastly as we are committed to the project of preserving traditional varieties we shall continue it and hopefully youth will join us too!”

    Contact details:
    Siddharudh Savayava Krishikara Balaga
    Mr. Bheemappa Basavanyappa Kilari
    Bheemappa B. Killari, Village Gundenatti,
    Post Bailur, Via Kittur,
    Belgaum dist – 591 115
    Mobile: 09900683993 , 08722626562

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