NIZAMABAD: Known to house nearly 1.5 lakh paddy varieties, that evolved over 10,000 years of its farming history, India was left with just a few thousand by mid-1960s. The Green Revolution of 1966 saw the government programmes proactively pushing for high yield, hybrid seeds, so much so that at some point, over 75 per cent of India’s rice production came from less than 10 varieties.
With time, these indigenous varieties of rice were either being cultivated in only remote tribal villages or in the backyards of proactive rice conservationists. Nagulla Chinna Gangaram alias Chinni Krishnudu is one such rice conservationist here in Telangana’s Nizamabad district. A native of Chintalurru village in Nizamabad’s Jakranpally Mandal, Krishnudu presently resides in Nizamabad town.
Krishnudu owns 11 acres of land in his native village of Chintaluru of which 10 acres as been given out on lease to other farmers. In the remaining one acre, half an acre is used to cultivate Mango trees and has a water storage facility. In the other half, he tries the latest organic farming methods to cultivate paddy.
Five years back, Krishnudu shifted to Nizamabad town and started to live in the Laxmi Priya Nagar. He purchased a two-and-half acre plot while taking another half-acre on the lease, in the Gopanpally village. All the paddy grown on this plot is from country-made seeds with different coloured crops. Arranged in a radial design to accommodate a maximum number of varieties of rice in a small area, Krishnudu’s nurseries have gone viral over social media of late. When these photographs and details of Krishnudu’s work reached other farmers, they met with him and learned more about his organic farming methods.
According to Chinni Krishnudu, the country had at least 40,000 different varieties of paddy seeds in the olden days. But now, the farmers only know of some 10,000 varieties of seeds of which only 200 to 300 varieties are actually cultivated.
In the present season, Krishnudu has cultivated nurseries with 60 varieties of paddy in one place and 49 varieties in another. Krishnudu has been cultivating 102 varieties of rice seeds, procured from at least 10 different states, for the last several years. He now wants to touch the benchmark of 111 varieties.
Assam’s famous Magic Rice Seed is of special interest to him. The speciality of this rice seed is that it does not need to be cooked. Just dropping the seeds into water is enough to cook them and fit for consumption in meals. This was first put to use by the soldiers of the Indian Army when they were unable to procure regular rice for days together.