B.K. Deva Rao - Collects and preserves array of 154 rice varieties.

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Collects and preserves array of 154 rice varieties. Aims to safeguard medicinally rich rice variants from extinction

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“I love to collect rice seeds having unique taste and high medicinal values. I derive immense satisfaction from collecting and preserving the traditional rice varieties grown across India. It is our wealth and I want to safeguard it. As of date I have 154 rice varieties with me,” says Mr. B.K. Deva Rao. He hails from Mitta Bagilu village, Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka. He speaks about his passion of collecting rice varieties, switch from chemical to organic farming and seed bank. Excerpts:

Rice Varieties Collection

I started collecting rice seeds in the year 1975. Initially 40 rice varieties were collected from our own region. It gave me enormous confidence and pleasure hence I decided to continue the initiative. In 1988 I observed due to use of chemical fertilizer many rice varieties were lost! So I started taking efforts to search and revive these varieties. I could restore 14 varieties within 1 year. These were on verge of extinction as farmers were moving away from farming.

In 1990, I listed 80 endangered rice varieties. In the span of next four years I collected 40 varieties. Then some organisations and people in farming came to know about the initiative and helped in collecting the rice varieties from different regions. In 2006-07 during ‘Rice Auction’ and ‘Seeds Mela”, I collected many varieties of rice by exchanging with other farmers. Through the collective efforts today I have 154 different kinds of rice seeds intact with me.

It is difficult to preserve the seeds. Any harvested seed should be sown before 8months to get good yield. If seed is not sown within 8months, the life cycle will be reduced. And after 12months the seeds become dormant. To grow 10-12kgs of seeds 1acre farm space is needed. I grow rice seeds in 15acres twice a year. 95% the paddy seedlings are transplanted. I have rice seeds with yielding duration of 65-275days. Every plants has different characteristics like red plant, black plant, top and bottom different colours, height varies from 1.5 -8 feet.

To keep the rice varieties safe from being spoilt I store it carefully. I differentiate seeds into 3 parts-early seed, middle seed and late seeding. Then the seeds are stored under these three divisions. Frequently I wipe the seeds with cloth as well. Irrespective of all constraints I preserve these rice varieties as it my passion!

Organic Farming

Prior to 1988 I was using chemical fertilizer but never used pesticides on my farmland. Influenced from article on organic farming slowly and gradually I made a shift to natural farming practices. Past 30 years my farm is 100% organic. Inspite of being purely chemical free I keep the prices reasonable because it gives umpteen satisfaction that I am selling food for healthy life and not poison! Besides my farm is different from all other farmers’ fields as it has adequate water and air all round the year! The reason being my farming practices are in alliance with the nature.

I grow four rice varieties in my farmland. The first crop is called as enilu (April-October) while 2nd crop is suggi (October-March). In between these two crops, another two rice varieties are cultivated called patla (August-January) and kolache (February-May). Other than rice I grow 40 varieties of vegetables in my farm. Entire produce is sold to the direct buyers from the door stop.

Seed Bank

At the seed bank all seeds are exhibited for the farmers to see. I give fistful of seeds free of cost to the other farmer who wants to cultivate to preserve the variety. In return they give back the seeds of the crops grown in their farm. It is purposeful exchange.

I have added rice varieties in my collection one after the other. It is the effort of 28 plus years. Some varieties are extremely rare as these were grown during our ancestral time. I shall neither leave cultivating paddy or collecting the rice varieties as it essence and achievement of my life!

(As told to Mamatha S R)

Contact details:
Mr. B.K. Deva Rao
Swasthy, Bajettabittu,
Mitta Bagilu village,
PO Killur, Belthangadi Taluk,
Dakshina Kannada District - 574 214,
Karnataka
Phone: 9448287051
 

greenlandfns

Well-Known Member
Collects and preserves array of 154 rice varieties. Aims to safeguard medicinally rich rice variants from extinction

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“I love to collect rice seeds having unique taste and high medicinal values. I derive immense satisfaction from collecting and preserving the traditional rice varieties grown across India. It is our wealth and I want to safeguard it. As of date I have 154 rice varieties with me,” says Mr. B.K. Deva Rao. He hails from Mitta Bagilu village, Dakshina Kannada district, Karnataka. He speaks about his passion of collecting rice varieties, switch from chemical to organic farming and seed bank. Excerpts:

Rice Varieties Collection

I started collecting rice seeds in the year 1975. Initially 40 rice varieties were collected from our own region. It gave me enormous confidence and pleasure hence I decided to continue the initiative. In 1988 I observed due to use of chemical fertilizer many rice varieties were lost! So I started taking efforts to search and revive these varieties. I could restore 14 varieties within 1 year. These were on verge of extinction as farmers were moving away from farming.

In 1990, I listed 80 endangered rice varieties. In the span of next four years I collected 40 varieties. Then some organisations and people in farming came to know about the initiative and helped in collecting the rice varieties from different regions. In 2006-07 during ‘Rice Auction’ and ‘Seeds Mela”, I collected many varieties of rice by exchanging with other farmers. Through the collective efforts today I have 154 different kinds of rice seeds intact with me.

It is difficult to preserve the seeds. Any harvested seed should be sown before 8months to get good yield. If seed is not sown within 8months, the life cycle will be reduced. And after 12months the seeds become dormant. To grow 10-12kgs of seeds 1acre farm space is needed. I grow rice seeds in 15acres twice a year. 95% the paddy seedlings are transplanted. I have rice seeds with yielding duration of 65-275days. Every plants has different characteristics like red plant, black plant, top and bottom different colours, height varies from 1.5 -8 feet.

To keep the rice varieties safe from being spoilt I store it carefully. I differentiate seeds into 3 parts-early seed, middle seed and late seeding. Then the seeds are stored under these three divisions. Frequently I wipe the seeds with cloth as well. Irrespective of all constraints I preserve these rice varieties as it my passion!

Organic Farming

Prior to 1988 I was using chemical fertilizer but never used pesticides on my farmland. Influenced from article on organic farming slowly and gradually I made a shift to natural farming practices. Past 30 years my farm is 100% organic. Inspite of being purely chemical free I keep the prices reasonable because it gives umpteen satisfaction that I am selling food for healthy life and not poison! Besides my farm is different from all other farmers’ fields as it has adequate water and air all round the year! The reason being my farming practices are in alliance with the nature.

I grow four rice varieties in my farmland. The first crop is called as enilu (April-October) while 2nd crop is suggi (October-March). In between these two crops, another two rice varieties are cultivated called patla (August-January) and kolache (February-May). Other than rice I grow 40 varieties of vegetables in my farm. Entire produce is sold to the direct buyers from the door stop.

Seed Bank

At the seed bank all seeds are exhibited for the farmers to see. I give fistful of seeds free of cost to the other farmer who wants to cultivate to preserve the variety. In return they give back the seeds of the crops grown in their farm. It is purposeful exchange.

I have added rice varieties in my collection one after the other. It is the effort of 28 plus years. Some varieties are extremely rare as these were grown during our ancestral time. I shall neither leave cultivating paddy or collecting the rice varieties as it essence and achievement of my life!

(As told to Mamatha S R)

Contact details:
Mr. B.K. Deva Rao
Swasthy, Bajettabittu,
Mitta Bagilu village,
PO Killur, Belthangadi Taluk,
Dakshina Kannada District - 574 214,
Karnataka
Phone: 9448287051
A great salute to the seed saver, Deva Rao, and Mamatha for reporting about this great farmer. Our member farmers will send some unique rice seeds for your collection, from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. And we will come and visit you and take some seeds from you soon.
 

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