HYDERABAD: To preserve indigenous seed varieties and also promote organic farming, the state bio-diversity board will soon open over 110 seed banks across the two states. With the requisite budgets sanctioned for this pilot project, the board is all set to start the programme in the coming weeks.
The concept is inspired by the activities of a Karnataka-based NGO which was able to do the same in a small scale. A similar project is underway in Gujarat too.
‘’The idea is to start one such seed bank in every village. Farmers can take seeds of various traditional crop varieties free of cost and return double the seeds to the bank after cultivation,” said R Hampaiah, chairman, AP State Biodiversity Board. The board has proposed to open about 60 seed banks in Andhra Pradesh and about 50 in Telangana.
Each identified location for seed bank will cover a cluster of villages.
In this regard, the board has been imparting training to selected farmers from various villages every week. Farmers are being educated on the disadvantages of hybrid seeds and the use of pesticides and fertilizers. ‘’Farmers are looking for good seeds and our objective is to make available traditional varieties of seeds as we believe hybrid varieties of seeds do more harm,’’ Hampaiah said.
The seeds of millets like sorghum, bajra, setaria, ragi, sama, jowar; pulses, different types of grams, some vegetables like brinjal, tomatoes, melon, bitter guard, ladies’ finger etc apart from various traditional varieties of rice would be provided by the bank. Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University and National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources have agreed to provide the requisite amount of seed varieties.
‘’This will not only preserve the local varieties of crops but also promote organic farming, which will in turn reduce the cost of cultivation and yield better output and returns,’’ chairman of the board said adding that huge numbers of farmer suicides in the region was a result of farmers resorting to cultivation of crops not suitable for their region.
According to him, the yield and quality in modern day agriculture were unfortunately inversely proportional though a very small number of farmers practice low cost agriculture and ensure better prices for their yield. The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) of the respective villages will also be provided aid to market these varieties so that more and more farmers are encouraged to sow indigenous varieties, he said.