Lahari Bai, a Baiga tribal woman from Madhya Pradesh has been declared as the brand ambassador for the ‘International Millet Year’. Their seed bank has more than 150 varieties of rare seeds.
After learning about the health benefits of millet from her grandmother, Lahari Bai from Madhya Pradesh dedicated her life to preserving the seeds of the millet. She originally belongs to the Baiga tribal community, a particularly vulnerable tribal group in Madhya Pradesh.
It is believed that the people of this tribe have a deep knowledge of the environment and biodiversity, which they keep passing on from one generation to another. Inspired by her grandmother, Lahari, a resident of the remote village of Silpadi in Dindori district, started collecting seeds at the age of 18.
She still goes around the surrounding villages collecting seeds from forests and fields. The Better India She explains, “Collecting seeds gives me joy. People would make fun of me and ask why I was collecting seeds. But I went on collecting these seeds hiding from them. Some indigenous seeds are such that only the elders of my community can identify them.
Today, 27-year-old Lahiri has a seed bank of 150 types of cereals.
Lahiri became the Millet Woman of the country
Lahari lives in a two-room mud house in her village, out of which she has reserved one room for these seeds. To preserve these seeds, she also cultivates them from time to time. Along with this, she also keeps on distributing her rare seeds to the nearby farmers. In return, she does not take money but crops grown from seeds.
When the district collector came to know the story of his seed conservation, he went to Lahiri’s house and saw his seed bank. With his help, Lahiri’s name reached the central government for Millet Ambassador. Lahiri got recognition in many places one after the other.
This year, the Indian government is trying to make the country a global hub for millet cultivation and research. In such a situation, the efforts of youths like Lahiri are proving to be very helpful.
Editing- Archana Dubey
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