A farmer with a difference

Here is a farmer who has been helping others to reverse the trend towards extinction of local crop varieties. He had put up a stall at Alva’s Nudisiri.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Billampadavu Narayana Bhat said that he has been involved in taking care of different varieties of vegetable seeds for the last 10 years in his 35 cents land in Bantwal taluk.

“I have been visiting Krishi melas, sahithya sammelans to sell the traditional organically grown vegetable seeds. I do not depend on middlemen to sell the seeds. The vegetables are grown on my land and I help other farmers to grow. I have been growing vegetables using jute bags for the last 10 years. ‘Beeja siri,’ an organic seed bank was started in the year 2002.

Under my guidance, there are atleast 20 persons who have started growing vegetables in bags on the terrace of their house in Mangalore.”

“All the vegetables are grown using organic manure. After green revolution, everyone shifted to chemical fertilisers. I grow vegetables only to produce seeds as there are very few who grow traditional vegetable seeds. I sell seeds worth more than Rs one lakh in a
year,” he added.

He said the life of a seed is one year. The old seeds do not survive. “I grow vegetables using burnt soil, organic manure (hatti gobbara), Jeevamrutha and slurry. No insecticides are used. If any vegetable is attacked with diseases, then I use ‘kasaraka’ plant leaves and ‘gomuthra’ and spray it on the plants for controlling the pests.”

Few seeds which were for sale included white okra (bili bendekai), red okra (kempu bendekai), green okra (hasiru bendekai), Srilanka bendekai, Metre yard long beans (alasande), ‘Podaru alasande,’ ‘Gida alasande,’ ‘Udupi Gulla,’ ‘Nali Badane,’ ‘Thaiwan papay,’ tomato, paduvalakai, ‘harive,’ bitter gourd, ash gourd, Ibbudla, blonde cucumber, cucumber and so on.

In fact, every year, he comes up with one traditional vegetable seed which had become extinct over the years. This year, he has brought out ‘Gonchalu heerekai.’ One bunch of ‘Gonchalu heerekai’ will have 10 to 15 fruits. The size of ‘Gonchalu heerekai’ is small compared to the normally available ‘heerekai’ in the market. “I make an effort to preserve the traditional seeds through my seed bank,” he said.

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