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Debal Deb - one man's efforts in India's seed preservation

 
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Tonu



Joined: 07 Aug 2008
Posts: 630


Location: Delta, British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:34 am    Post subject: Debal Deb - one man's efforts in India's seed preservation  Reply with quote

This is what Debal Deb had to say on 28th Feb 2013 in his FB status:

Quote:
Returned from my Journey of Rejuvenated Hope in Meghalaya and Assam yesterday evening. I was enthused to see a large number of farmers and school children so zealous about saving local rice and vegetable varieties.

I was able to collect 11 folk varieties of rice from farmers who are involved in seed saving, supported by Prof. S.K. Barik of NEHU, Shillong. Prof. Barik is a rare academic who works for and in the local communities, and incorporated seed saving after he had learnt about my work on rice genetic diversity conservation.

In Assam, an exceptional activist Peggy from Canada has created a network of indigenous farmers to save local crop varieties and to promote organic farming. It's Peggy who arranged for my trip to Jorhat, Digboi and Dibrugarh to train farmers in techniques of seed conservation and genetic purity maintenance.

When I told the farmers in Digboi and Dibrugarh that they are thousands of miles ahead of the film stars who play act patriotism on TV and film, in patriotic service to the nation, their faces lit up. When I told them it's they who sustain our cultural heritage and civilization, I saw stars in their eyes. One of them told me after my presentation in Dibrugarh that he would grow all the local varieties on his farm till death...

I received gifts of seed packets from farmers from Digboi, and of seed albums from kids from a primary school in Jorhat, where the school teachers have incorporated seed saving activity into the school curriculum!!

When I asked the children if they would continue seed saving activity if there were no marks (in the curriculum) attached to it, some of them answered, "We shall continue till we graduate from college," and some said. "We will grow the seeds when we grow up."

I am now happy to learn that their little hands are strong enough to ensure the future of our food security. After a decade of frustration, this trip has rejuvenated my hope and trust in our next generation of farmers and students.

Now am preparing to leave, this afternoon, for Bishnupur. I will appear before the court there as a forest criminal tomorrow... and will return to Barrackpore for another night. Next day will leave for my Odisha farm.




Last edited by Tonu on Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tonu



Joined: 07 Aug 2008
Posts: 630


Location: Delta, British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I posted the following on the google Santiniketan board - as an example of what material the Alumni or well wishers might consider worthy of storage and follow up, if issues like this are of interest to anybody.

Quote:
Here is an example of material one might store in a sturdy bulletin baord forum system - for checking if these small but very significant movements can be re-initiated by Santiniketan-Sriniketan and motivated/ guided or monitored by the Alumni.

This is for the the concerned citizens of India on one side, and for the well wishers of Santiniketan - the institution that could have been integrated in its departments towards assisting in India’s sustainable future on the other. I received a status update from Debal Deb and found it not just inspiring but also an example of what Sriniketan, PSS, Shiksha Satra and even Patha Bhavan students could be involved in - to get their hands into the soil for the preservation of India’s food independence.

Many of you perhaps know of Dr. Vandana Shiva’s work in seed preservation and fighting against western corporate driven agenda to steal India’s biodiversity, patent them, and introduce transgene crops aross India and take away the farmers tradition to use his own seeds and stay away from chemical dependence in a healthy relation between plant, soil and the living earth.

Not many know of similar work on the ground being done by many others that are less savvy in media promotion, but more effective with actual farmers and with preservation of the indigenous rice varieties and the culture of preserving India’s biodiversity where in belongs, in the hands of small farmers across the country.

Here is the note from Dr. Debal Deb, one of the least glorified hero of today’s India, after a trip to Meghalaya and Assam in Feb 2013. The last part of the note, regarding being a forest criminal, is typical development of the Indian Forest Service personnel trying to harass Debal because he initiated a public interest litigation against them for illegally cutting down and stealing very rare trees and plants from a tribal community maintained sacred grove - rare trees and plants that needed to be preserved.

Quote
March 4,
Returned from my Journey of Rejuvenated Hope in Meghalaya and Assam yesterday evening. I was enthused to see a large number of farmers and school children so zealous about saving local rice and vegetable varieties.

I was able to collect 11 folk varieties of rice from farmers who are involved in seed saving, supported by Prof. S.K. Barik of NEHU, Shillong. Prof. Barik is a rare academic who works for and in the local communities, and incorporated seed saving after he had learnt about my work on rice genetic diversity conservation.

In Assam, an exceptional activist Peggy from Canada has created a network of indigenous farmers to save local crop varieties and to promote organic farming. It's Peggy who arranged for my trip to Jorhat, Digboi and Dibrugarh to train farmers in techniques of seed conservation and genetic purity maintenance.

When I told the farmers in Digboi and Dibrugarh that they are thousands of miles ahead of the film stars who play act patriotism on TV and film, in patriotic service to the nation, their faces lit up. When I told them it's they who sustain our cultural heritage and civilization, I saw stars in their eyes. One of them told me after my presentation in Dibrugarh that he would grow all the local varieties on his farm till death...

I received gifts of seed packets from farmers from Digboi, and of seed albums from kids from a primary school in Jorhat, where the school teachers have incorporated seed saving activity into the school curriculum!!

When I asked the children if they would continue seed saving activity if there were no marks (in the curriculum) attached to it, some of them answered, "We shall continue till we graduate from college," and some said. "We will grow the seeds when we grow up."

I am now happy to learn that their little hands are strong enough to ensure the future of our food security. After a decade of frustration, this trip has rejuvenated my hope and trust in our next generation of farmers and students.

Now am preparing to leave, this afternoon, for Bishnupur. I will appear before the court there as a forest criminal tomorrow... and will return to Barrackpore for another night. Next day will leave for my Odisha farm.


Unquote

PS - I am preserving these notes for my personal reference in Uttarayan (http://uttarayan.myfreeforum.org/about367.html) and am also arranging to speak with both Peggy (from Canada) who is stationed in Assam and engaged with the issue, as well as Prof. S.K. Barik of Shillong that are mentioned by Debal in his note.

This is also an example of material the Alumni of VB, if they were so inclined, could store in a suitable bulletin board platform, and also consider influencing the various wings of VB in getting re-engaged in. I say re-engaged because a plethora of sustainability initiatives were taken up by Rabindranath in his lifetime in one of the most inspiring phase in Bengal’s pre-independence history of building up a self supporting community.

Today, sadly, the Indian state is busy selling itself to the highest bidder, destroying its biodiversity to promote corporate patented mono-crop based agriculture designed to make money for a few and steal India’s food sovereignty, and only people engaged in true sustainability are a small and unrecognized group of individuals driven by self-belief but otherwise ignored or harassed by the state.

Cheers
Tonu
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Tonu



Joined: 07 Aug 2008
Posts: 630


Location: Delta, British Columbia, Canada

PostPosted: Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a blog on Debal, where four videos were made out of a telephone conversation. Three of these, parts 1,2,3 were on GMO.

You can find the blog by clicking the image below.



The 4th was his views on Rabindranath Tagore's efforts at rural reconstruction and why it did not succeed.

Direct link to the four videos are given below.

1. Debal Deb on GM Crop - Part 1

2. Dr. Debal Deb on GM crop – part 2

3. Dr. Debal Deb on GM crop – part 3

4. Dr. Debal Deb on Rabindranath Tagore, Santiniketan, and the corrosive effects of Bengaliana

...

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