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Grassroot Level Awareness Programmes cum Biodiversity Fairs on Crop Genetic Resources Conservation

Date Posted: 20-08-2019

Two Grassroot Level Awareness Programmes cum Biodiversity Fairs on Crop Genetic Resources Conservation were organised one each at Paderu, Visakhapatnam and Santhinagar, Araku, Visakhapatnam on 26th and 27th July 2019 respectively. Both programmes were organised under Tribal Sub Project to bring in awareness to the tribal farmers regarding the need and necessity of conservation of Agri-biodiversity. The Programmes were organised by the NBPGR Regional Station Hyderabad in association with SANJEEVINI Rural Development Society, an NGO working towards tribal upliftment in the region. The Programmes were envisaged keeping in view the erosion of agri-biodiversity especially in the tribal areas of Visakhapatnam District. More than 400 farmers from four mandals viz., Paderu, Hukumpeta, Arakuvalley and Dumbriguda participated in the programmes.

1. Paderu
The Programme on 26th at Paderu village (Paderu Mandal) began with a welcome address by Shri Devullu, Director of SANJEEVINI, followed by a welcome song and the traditional lighting of the lamp. Shri Devullu expressed his gratitude to NBPGR for being instrumental in and facilitating the documentation of the activities of SANJEEVINI Rural Development Society, Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh which led to the receipt of the PLANT GENOME SAVIOUR COMMUNITY AWARD conferred by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA), Central Government to those farmers, particularly of the tribal and rural communities who have a long track record for conserving plant agro-biodiversity, engaging in safe conservation, improvement and preservation of genetic resources of economic plants and their wild relatives particularly in the areas identified as agro bio-diversity hotspots. Shri Devullu mentioned that the receipt of the award had led to a recognition of their activities by the State Government. This was followed by a brief on significant aspects of agri-biodiversity and overview of the Awareness Programme by Dr.B.Sarath Babu, Principal Scientist & Officer- In-Charge, NBPGR Regional Station, Hyderabad. Dr Sarath Babu in his address also highlighted the tremendous responsibility of tribal communities in the conservation of floral wealth of the region and associated plant genetic resources. He outlined the various activities of the Bureau, including germplasm exchange, biodiversity act, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act and the National Gene bank. He appealed to all the farmers present to continue growing and conserving the local diversity. Dr K Anitha spoke about the relevance of plant protection, Dr V Kamala shared her experiences during exploring the area for pigeon pea germplasm and interactions with the local tribals and the contribution to the Seed Genebank that was being maintained at Killoguda by SANJEEVINI. Dr B Abraham talked about different conservation aspects and how all the seed wealth was conserved safely in the gene banks at Delhi and Hyderabad. About 250 Tribal Farmers including about 100 women from tribal pockets in and around Paderu and Hukumpet mandals participated in the programme.

Tribal farmers’ interactive session
During the session, some tribal farmers as Shri K Pandanna, Shri K Ramchander and Smt Varalamma shared their experiences on the importance of traditional varieties still in use in the region especially of millets as sorghum, little millet, barnyard millet and pulses such as pigeon pea, rajma bean chickpea etc., and their own efforts towards their conservation and sustainable agriculture. They also interacted with scientists and co-farmers and expressed their happiness over organization of the agri-biodiversity fair and PGR awareness programme.

Visit to Agri-biodiversity Exhibition
The interactive session was followed by a guided exposure to the agri-biodiversity exhibition was facilitated by the staff of NBPGR Regional Station, Hyderabad to the participants. Seed diversity in paddy and other cereals, sorghum and other millets, pulses, oilseeds, underutilized legumes and medicinal plants along with posters in vernacular language were displayed for the benefit of the participants. The farmers particularly womenfolk expressed keen interest in the crop diversity of their region under display.
Distribution of Kits to Farming Communities
To promote PGR conservation among tribal farmers, a kit each consisting of one pickaxe, axe, spade, shovel and iron basket along with literature published in vernacular language by the station were distributed to 200 farmers who were identified as beneficiaries. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the Chair and all those who had contributed to make the programme a success.

2. Araku
Araku Valley is one of the most important tourist destinations in Andhra Pradesh. This valley is situated about 112 kms from Vishakhapatnam. Araku Valley is a pleasant hill station famous for its scenic gardens with lush green nature, valleys, waterfalls and streams. This valley is spread over an area of 3200’. About 19 tribes inhabit this area, and natural beauty of this valley comes alive only with the aboriginal tribes who dwell here and who have to this day kept their tradition and culture alive.

The Programme on 27th at Santhinagaram village (Araku Mandal) began with a welcome address by Shri Devullu, Director of SANJEEVINI which was followed by the followed by a welcome song and dance by the tribal women and the traditional lighting of the lamp. The Chief guest on the occasion was Dr Kuldeep Singh, Director, ICAR NBPGR, New Delhi while Guest of Honour was Shri D K Balaji, PO, ITDA. The Agri-biodiversity exhibition by both SANJEEVINI and NBPGR RS Hyderabad was inaugurated by Dr Kuldeep Singh, Director NBPGR. Brief objectives of the programme were outlined by Dr B Sarath Babu, Principal Scientist & Officer- In-Charge, NBPGR Regional Station. Shri K Pandanna and Shri K Ramchander both tribal farmers and active members of SANJEEVINI spoke about the importance of traditional varieties still in use in the region especially of millets as sorghum, little millet, barnyard millet and pulses such as pigeon pea, rajma bean chickpea etc. Dr K Anitha, Principal Scientist, NBPGR RS Hyderabad interacted with all the tribal farmers on various aspects of plant protection. The sessions were highly interactive with many of the farmers’ queries relating to identification of diseases and pests and appropriate measures for their containment.

Dr B Sarath Babu in his address said that it was indeed a very happy moment when the Central Government announced that SANJEEVINI was awarded the Plant Genome Saviour Community Award. The Regional station had spared no effort to facilitate the documentation of the conservation efforts of SANJEEVINI Rural Development Society way back in 2011-2012. Shri Devullu added that getting this award helped the region itself in being recognised by the State Government for various projects and funding schemes. Smt Ammaji, also of SANJEEVINI has since been recognised as a State Resource person under the RYSS scheme.

Dr Kuldeep Singh’s address in hindi was translated into vernacular telugu by Dr B Sarath Babu, for the benefit of all the tribal farmers. Dr Kuldeep Singh briefly sketched the history of agriculture from its origins 10 to 12 thousand years ago until the green revolution, which brought in its wake modernisation and the increasing dependence on hybrids and resource intensive agricultural practices, leading to genetic erosion and the loss of traditional diversity. The crucial establishment of NBPGR in safeguarding the valuable germplasm of traditional crops. He further mentioned that advances in scientific methods had allowed us to understand more about the nutritional profile of our diverse crops and cited examples where genes from crop wild relatives had enabled us to contain diseases and pests enabled us to contain diseases and pests which in earlier days had devastated crops leading to famines both in Ireland and Bengal. He emphasised that villages were once again becoming a heaven for people who, stressed with the pollution of the cities were returning. Congratulating Shri Devullu and SANJEEVINI on its collection and conservation activities, he underlined the importance of building and establishing community seed banks and community-based cooperatives and underscored the need particularly for on-farm conservation of agri-biodiversity with special reference to landrace/ traditional varieties diversity. He assured that NBPGR while taking from the farmers would also safeguard and conserve the germplasm and give back to them as and when required.

Shri D K Balaji, PO, ITDA also addressed the tribal gathering of farmers and appreciated the efforts of NBPGR and SANJEEVINI in organizing the awareness programme and agri-exhibition for the benefit of tribal farmers in and around Paderu and Araku. He too talked about the traditional crops grown in the Eastern Ghats region during earlier times and cautioned about deterioration of health due to indiscriminate use of pesticides and the necessity of re-introduction of traditional crops.

Tribal farmers’ interactive session
During the session, some tribal farmers as Shri K Pandanna and Shri K Ramchander shared their experiences on the importance of traditional varieties still in use in the region especially of millets as sorghum, little millet, barnyard millet and pulses such as pigeon pea, rajma bean chickpea etc., and their own efforts towards their conservation and sustainable agriculture.

Visit to Agri-biodiversity Exhibition
The interactive session was followed by a guided exposure to the agri-biodiversity exhibition was facilitated by the staff of NBPGR Regional Station, Hyderabad to the participants. Seed diversity in paddy and other cereals, sorghum and other millets, pulses, oilseeds, underutilized legumes and medicinal plants along with posters in vernacular language were displayed for the benefit of the participants. The farmers particularly womenfolk expressed keen interest in the crop diversity of their region under display.

Distribution of Kits to Farming Communities
To promote PGR conservation among tribal farmers, a kit each consisting of one pick axe, axe, spade, shovel and iron basket along with literature published in vernacular language by the station were distributed to 200 farmers who were identified as beneficiaries. Visit to Community Seed Bank and Biodiversity Block, Killoguda

The Director, Dr Kuldeep Singh visited the Community Seed Bank at Killoguda, being maintained by SANJEEVINI where over 200 different traditional varieties of cereals, millets, pulses and oilseeds collected from the region were conserved in earthen pots in traditional style. During the interactions, Shri Devullu mentioned that 3 quintals of seed were given to four adjoining mandals with about 680 farmers exchanging seed through SANJEEVINI. He also said that one of the objectives of SANJEEVINI was to develop and establish a Community Seed Bank in each of the 8 adjoining panchayats. The visit to the Community Seed Bank was followed by a visit to the Biodiversity Block where millets and pulses had been sown for organic cultivation and harvesting.

Press Briefing
The Director, ICAR-NBPGR, Dr Kuldeep Singh, Dr.B.Sarath Babu, Principal Scientist and Officer-In-Charge, NBPGR Regional Station, Hyderabad and other resource persons briefed about agri-biodiversity, role of NBPGR, National Gene Bank, National Biodiversity Act, PPVFRA, Community Gene Banks, participatory agri-biodiversity conservation, germplasm exchange and related information to the press reporters / journalists who participated in the programme.

(Source:  Dr Sarath Babu Balijepalli, ICAR-NBPGR, Regional Station Hyderabad)

 
 
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