Grassroot Level Awareness Programme cum Biodiversity Fair on Crop Genetic Resources Conservation

Date Posted: 18-03-2020

A Grassroot Level Awareness Programme cum Biodiversity Fair on Crop Genetic Resources Conservation was organised at Battupalli Village, Pinapaka Mandalam, Bhadradri Kothagudem District, Telangana State on 27th-28th February 2020. The programme was organised under Tribal Sub Project to bring in awareness to the tribal farmers regarding the need and necessity of conservation of agri-biodiversity. The Programme was organised by the NBPGR Regional Station Hyderabad in association with ASHA, an NGO working towards tribal upliftment in the region. The Programme was envisaged keeping in view the erosion of agri-biodiversity especially in the tribal area of Warangal District. A total of 120 tribal farmers comprising 15 each from eight villages viz., Neeladripeta, Nimmagudem, Aswapurampadu, Regalla, Padiggapuram, Agorugudem, Tekulagudem and Chintalapadu.
The Programme began with a welcome address by Shri S Subhani, General Secretary ASHA, who expressed his gratitude to NBPGR for being instrumental in bringing in awareness 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. This was followed by the inauguration of the agri-biodiversity exhibition by Shri Nageshwar Rao, Sarpanch of the village. 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. Following this, Dr B Sarath Babu, Principal Scientist & Officer-In-Charge, NBPGR Regional Station, Hyderabad in his address 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. Shri Nageshwar Rao also addressed the participants and emphasised the need for sustainable agriculture and conservation of local biodiversity. About 120 Tribal Farmers including about 20 women from tribal pockets in and around the eight villages participated in the programme. During the session, some tribal farmers 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.
To promote PGR conservation among tribal farmers, a kit each consisting of one pickaxe, axe, shovel, iron crowbar and an iron basket along with literature published in vernacular language by the station were distributed to 120 selected 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.

(Source:  Dr Kamala Venkateswaran, Principal Scientist, ICAR-NBPGR, Regional Station Hyderabad)