Sudam Sahu, a farmer from Katapali village in Bargarh (Odisha) district, started collecting seeds as a hobby in 2001. But today this work has become a mission of his life. He is motivating the farmers of his area to use indigenous seeds in farming. Seed Protector Sudam has collected and stored more than 1000 varieties of seeds in the last 19 years. He has also opened his own seed bank in Bargarh.
Every year, apart from increasing his collection, he is also working to train young farmers for organic farming. The Better India Talking to TOI, he said, “Nearly every other day someone or the other visits my farm to see my collection or get information about farming from me. I am glad that among the people, there is a growing trend of using indigenous seeds, which had completely reduced sometime back.”
To preserve the seeds of his seed bank year after year, he also cultivates them. He plants 500-500 varieties and prepares their seeds every year in turn. Apart from this, he has also developed six new varieties of paddy seeds using his own experiments. Four of which are ready with patents and names.
chose agriculture instead of job
Talking about his passion for farming, 49-year-old Sudam says, “In 2001, I also got a government job offer. Because the financial condition of my house was not good. That’s why my father wanted me to do a job. Despite this, going against his wishes, I decided to take up farming.” Although Sudam’s father used to use chemicals in agriculture. But he credits his grandfather for collecting seeds and his penchant for organic farming. He says, “By the time I decided to take up farming in 2001, my grandfather was no more. So I went to Wardha (Maharashtra) Gandhi Ashram and took training in organic farming. During that time I got an opportunity to learn about the benefits of indigenous seeds and started collecting it from different places.”
He came back home and started teaching organic farming to the nearby farmers. He also used to go to different villages and wherever he could get indigenous seeds, he used to bring them. Apart from this, he also used to go in search of seeds in states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal. Thus by the year 2012, he had accumulated 900 varieties of indigenous paddy seeds. After which, he also started learning about seeds of pulses and vegetables.
Huge seed bank made at home
At present, Sudam’s seed stock comprises 1000 varieties of paddy seeds, 65 varieties of vegetables, 16 varieties of pulses and oilseeds. Apart from this, in the last few years, he has also created six new varieties of paddy seeds through cross germination. They claim that their made varieties have many medicinal properties.
He has set up his own seed bank on the first floor of his house. Where, the seeds are hung in separate pots on the walls of an area of about 800 square feet.
Sudam said, “I started training organic farming in 2008 to farmers from other states as well. Which helped me to increase the seed collection. Whoever came to learn from me, I used to ask them to bring indigenous seeds of their village. In this way, through the exchange itself, I have deposited 40 per cent of the seeds.”
He conducts about 150 training programs every year. For the last five years, he is also motivating people for the cultivation of black rice in his area. For which he also provides seeds to the farmers. They believe that our indigenous black rice is more nutritious. His collection also includes 14 varieties of black rice.
Sudam has made several efforts to promote the use of indigenous seeds. In view of his efforts, this year he has also been honored with ‘Jagjivan Ram Innovative Farmer’ award.
In the end Sudam says, “I want to pass this treasure to more farmers instead of keeping this treasure to myself. I am also helping farmers to set up their own seed bank. Whoever asks for seed from me, I provide the seed to him. So that maximum number of indigenous seeds can be used.
You can contact Sudam on 97768 78711 to know more about the seed bank.
Editing – Archana Dubey
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