Online Seed Diversity Festival, Oct.24-25, 2020

2:45 pm in News by Kavitha


Bharat Beej Swaraj Manch, ASHA-Kisan Swaraj, Save our Rice Campaign and Sahaja Samrudha invite you to an online Seed Diversity Festival

on October 24th 2020 (Saturday) and October 25th 2020 (Sunday)

10am to 2.30pm on both days

This unique online Seed Diversity Festival will celebrate and showcase India’s rich agro-diversity heritage, with seed savers across different states who are conserving seed varieties of different crops sharing about their work, along with cultural and cuisine-related significance of some varieties showcased.

बीज विविधता ऑनलाइन मेला २४ और २५ अक्टूबर को सुबह १० से दोपहर .३० बजे तक

इस बीज विविधता मेले में भारत में किसानों के विभिन्न फसलों की किस्मों की समृद्ध विरासत को प्रदर्शित किया जाएगा। साथ ही भारत के विभिन्न हिस्सों से बीज संरक्षण के प्रयासों को प्रस्तुत किया जाएगा। इस ऑनलाइन मेले में कृषि-विविधता विरासत के सांस्कृतिक और भोजन संबंधी पहलुओं पर भी प्रकाश डाला जाएगा ।

जिन भाइयों और बहनों के पास जूम या ईमेल न हो वह अपना पंजीकरण वाट्सऐप पर इस लिंक के माध्यम से कर सकते हैं -बीज-विविधता-ऑनलाइन-मेला-24-25-अक्टूबर-सत्र-में-जोडिए


Dr Debal Deb (Basudha/Vrihi)'s video:

North East Network (NEN)'s Seed Diversity video:

Vijay Jardhari (Beej Bachao Andolan, Uttarakhand)'s Seed Collection video:

Shankar Langati, Rice Farmer video:

Syed Ghani Khan, Karnataka Rice and Mango Farmer video:

Anjaneya, Karnataka (Rice, Green Manure Seeds) Video:

Karuna & Vasant Futane, Gram Sewa Mandali, Wardha video:
Vanastree, Sirsi, Karnataka video:



Dr Kuldeep Singh, Director, NBPGR:

Usha Soolapani, Save our Rice Campaign/Thanal, Kerala:

Sanjay Patil, BAIF, Maharashtra:

Dr Anupam Paul, West Bengal:

Dwijindranath Guru, Millet Foundation:

Dr K C Raghu, Pristine Organics, Nutrition Scientist:

Swaminathan, Kaskom, Tamil Nadu:

Deepika Kundaji, Pebble Garden, Auroville:

Dr K Ramachandra Naik, UHS, Bagalkot, Karnataka:

Brochure of Khamir on Kala Cotton:

Ghatit Laheru, Khamir, Gujarat:



Jacob Nellithanam is associated with Richharia campaign and national convenor of Bharat Beej Swaraj Manch. He is working with farmers and seed savers in different states helping them technically on seed conservation. He has been raising his voice against IPR on seeds nationally and internationally for the last 3 decades. Phone: 8826027520

Krishipatasala is a collective of artists,  organic farmers and students at Arangottukara, Thrissur, Kerala. They conserve around 40 rice varieties, grow organic vegetables, conduct harvest festivals every January with thousands participating in exhibitions and cultural programmes. They run a weekly market for local farmers and run a restaurant with organic local products in the same village. They support social and environmental struggles through drama and songs.

Padmashri Babulal Dahiya is a well known seed saver from Madhya Pradesh. He conserves different varieties of rice , wheat  and many other crops . He is also a writer and has been writing on issues of culture around seeds and farming and is a great source of knowledge for farmers and organizations working with farmers. Babulalji conserves 110 varieties of rice and received Padmashri in the year 2019. Phone: 9981162564

Dr Kuldeep Singh is the Director of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources. He is a plant breeder originally from Kashmir. He worked in various institutions like International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Punjab Agriculture University, before joining NBPGR. Email: 

Vijay Jardhari is known to many as the “seed rights activist” from Uttarakhand in India. He understood early on the deep wisdom of the Barah Anaj (baranaja) system of the farmers of the area and how important seed diversity is to agro-ecology. Importantly, he also understood seed sovereignty deeply and inspired hundreds of farmers not to give up their control over seeds. He started Beej Bachao Andolan in 1986 along with fellow farmers and dedicated his life to conserving traditional seeds which otherwise would have disappeared. Email:

Usha Soolapani is the Director of Thanal, a well known environmental organisation that finds win-win solutions for rural livelihoods and environment in Kerala. Thanal is well known for its successful work related to rice diversity in the country through the Save our Rice Campaign. Usha is a trained horticulture scientist. Email:

Dr Debal Deb is that rare combination of an ecology scientist also practising farming along with seed conservation. If we are talking about seed conservation and seed diversity revival in India, we cannot move forward without making a mention of his deeply scientific, highly committed and immensely transformative work at Basudha his farm and Vrihi, the seed bank. Email:

Dr Anupam Paul is well known for his unusual work of rice folk varieties’ conservation, multiplication and re-popularisation amongst farmers of West Bengal, within the government systems, using Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana funding. He has published papers based on his work in ATC Fulia in West Bengal. Phone: 8777242151

Bhairab Saini is a Bankura based seed saver working on rice, wheat and mustard diversity conservation. He is constantly innovating and reaching out to fellow farmers to revive agro diversity.  Phone: 7384596494

Sanjay Patil is  well known in the field of agro biodiversity conservation and is working with BAIF in Thane, Maharashtra. He is conserving rice, millets and many other crops, especially suited to rainfed farming systems. He is an expert on seed conservation and is a resource person for various groups working with farmers. Email:

Syed Ghani Khan (Kirugavalu Village, Mandya District, Karnataka): Syed Ghani Khan’s Rice Diversity Center called as ‘Bada Bagh’, is an orchard of 116 varieties of mangoes and more than 1,000 traditional rice varieties. These rice varieties are taken from different parts of the country and many varieties originate from India. He is conserving seeds from Myanmar, Thailand, Pakistan and several other parts of the world. He hopes to reintroduce the amazing diversity of rice varieties and wants to bring back them. Initially he started tracing lost varieties of rice, collecting, conserving and cultivating them. The number increased with the help of the ‘Save Our Rice’ campaign and Sahaja Samrudha. He provides seeds to interested farmers and guides them in cultivation. Phone: 9901713351/ 7892692713

Anjaneya A N (Kumbaluru, Davanagere District, Karnataka): Anjaneya, a pioneer organic farmer from Davanagere has formed a group ‘Sharana Muddana Savayava Krishik Sanghatan’. He has started growing 5 desi rice varieties 10 years ago, now his conservation reached up to 120 varieties. He has developed a variety called ‘Andanuru Sanna’, small grain rice and gives good yield under organic methods. He has established a demonstration plot and conserving 120 varieties. With the help of other members of the group, he maintains a weekly market at Davanagere on every Saturday and sells many organic products. These 150 consumers, who have become permanent consumers of this market, appreciate the quality of products. Phone: 9972088929

Shankar Langati (Gundenahatti Village, Belgaum Dist, Karnataka): Shankar Langati has been conserving about 100 traditional rice varieties along with his group `Siddarudha Savayava Krishik Sanghatan` which has 46 organic farmers. He is conserving vegetables, millets and pulses too. He is from an agricultural background and followed conventional methods. Once he visited the ‘Seed Diversity Festival’ organized by Sahaja Samrudha and met many seed savers in the event. Inspired by these farmers, he decided to conserve local varieties of rice. He searched traditional varieties in his area and neighboring districts and got a few seeds. This led him to go ahead and now he is conserving about 100 desi rice. With the help of group, Shankar Langati is marketing the products in Dharwad and other places. He classified the rice as dosa rice, idli rice and sweet dish rice and children. Phone: 9972150378

Padma Shri Sabarmatee, Sambhav, Odisha: Padmashri Sabarmatee is from Odisha and is a founder member of Sambhav, a collective of environmentally concerned people who undertook the revival of a wasteland into a biodiversity rich place in Odisha over the last 3 decades. She hsa conserved around 500 varieties of rice, another 1000 species of plants including trees , fruiting plants and vegetables . They conduct regular training programmes for farmers and students about the value of biodiversity.  She received Padma Shri along with her father in 2019. Email:

Rajesh Krishnan is a young farmer from Wayanad district of Kerala, a back-to-land person who moved away from urban life. He and many other farmers of Thirunelly Agriculture Producer Company (TAPCO) are today doing inspiring work on growing many traditional paddy varieties organically, processing the same and selling profitably to urban consumers. Email:

Ammaji is from Sanjeevani organisation that works amongst the tribal communities in Araku valley of Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh. The organisation has over the years systematically mapped and revived agro-diversity in the area and also connected farmers directly to consumers through Rythu Bazaars.

Nilima Jorwar from Akole, Ahemadnagar is also known as Millet Queen. She has been working with the farmers on the ground to revive the traditional millet farming systems. Phone: 9422206267

Siba Prasad Sahu of Ahinsa Club, Bargarh, has been working since 2008 for preservation and promotion of traditional paddy seeds and its cultivation ,besides  minor millet in that area.educating the village communities for cultivating crops with organic manure following sustainable agricultural practices. Phone: 9437918498

Akole Tsuhah (अकोले सुहाह) is associated with North East Network, a feminist organisation working in a few states of North East India. She is from Chizami village of Phek district of Nagaland. NEN works to build livelihoods for rural women in Nagaland in agriculture and in handlooms, and focuses on millets-based agro-ecology. Email:

Selvam Ramasamy is an organic farmer from Erode district of Tamil Nadu. Following the footsteps of Dr Nammalwar, he has been busy inspiring many farmers in the state to shift to organic, desi seeds cultivation. He himself is conserving several traditional paddy varieties. Email:


Sreedevi Lakshmikutty has over 14 years of corporate experience, followed by over 12 years of social work with various NGOs both domestic and international. Devi holds a BA in Economics and an MS in Sociology from University of Louisville, USA. As a food and environmental activist, Devi has been actively working with the Coalition for a GM (Genetically Modification)-free India to prevent the launch of GM foods in India. She has also co-founded “Urban Leaves” in Mumbai to promote terrace gardening. She is presently an Advisor to a Foundation that provides assistance to NGOs working on sustainability. An Advisor to Thanal based in Thiruvananthapuram, Devi is a consultant for the “Save Our Rice” campaign across 5 States committed to conserving hundreds of traditional rice varieties. Devi has published several articles on the issue of safe food and sustainable farming. A keen farmer herself, she enjoys interacting with organic farmers and oversees the operations team at Bio Basics. Contact: Facebook

Nagesh Hegde is an Assistant Editor with Prajavani, a leading Kannada daily and a widely respected writer on environmental issues. He has handled important assignments for the newspaper, besides being deputed to cover the Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro. Hegde has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Sciences from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. In fact, he was among the first batch of students to get this degree in India. He was also the first to be appointed as an Assistant Professor to teach Environmental Geoscience in Kumaon University, Nainital. Hegde’s work on India’s iron ore export was debated in the Indian Parliament just prior to the infamous Emergency. During the heyday of environmental movements in Karnataka, Hegde’s writings were cited frequently and many of his articles have become textbook lessons. He has also travelled in the US, UK, Italy, Portugal and Kenya lecturing on environmental issues. He has also worked for popularising science among rural communities. Hegde has won many literary and environmental awards including the “Outstanding Environmental Journalist” award by the PRSI (Public Relations Society of India) and recently a similar one by the Karnataka Government. Email:

Dr K.C. Raghu has been in the forefront for over 2 decades in communicating medical science, health and food science to common public through various print and visual media. He has been a columnist for Vijaya Karnataka, Kannada Prabha, Udayavani, Prajavani and podcasts for the State South Word. He has also contributed general science articles to City Today for several years. His columns are popular among people and some of them have been brought out as books. He is the Founder of Pristine Organics Pvt Ltd. Pristine Organics promotes and provides healthy organic foods, nutraceuticals, and critical medical diets for rare genetic disorders like IEMs (inborn errors of metabolism). In fact they are the sole providers of such critical nutritional supplements and are responsible for saving 500+ lives in India so far. E-mail:

Neelam Dutta has been farming for 19 years. For the last 17 years, he has been focusing on organic farming. He is trained in Biodynamic Farming and natural Vedic farming. Since 2015 he embarked on an ongoing learning process with Sativa Rheinau, an organic seed company in Switzerland. Thereafter, organic seed production and breeding became an integral part of Pabhoi Greens, his farm in Biswanath district in the state of Assam. Having received an Ambassadors Grant from World Food System Centre (WFSC) by the ETH Zurich, he has visited many organic and Biodynamic seed companies like Bingenheimer Saatgut in Germany, Reinsaat in Austria, the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands and worked extensively with Sativa in Switzerland. Pabhoi Greens has also become a pioneer for single breeding of carps in northeast India. Further, they have a continued social impact via training women groups, young people, farmers and many students over the years. Phone: 9435485724

Sunita Rao is a trained ecologist from Karnataka. She has done a lot of work on biodiversity conservation in the last 3 decades. She started Vanastree two decades back based in Sirsi in the western ghats to work with women farmers to develop local seeds and food systems . They conserve a number of traditional vegetables and fruits and share the seeds to other farmers. e-mail:

Deepika Kundaji, organic gardener and seed saver, has worked since 1994 with non-commercial vegetable varieties ideal for home gardens. This work is part of the Pebble Garden initiative in Auroville, Tamilnadu, where she and Bernard Declercq have regenerated 7 acres of severely eroded land into a vibrant forest and a productive garden. She was awarded Nari Shakti Puraskar by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. The award is India’s highest civilian award for women. E-mail:

Ramasubramanian is well known for his work of supporting and reviving Gandhian Dharampal ji’s work. He runs the Sustainable Livelihoods Institute in Auroville, and is also into part-time farming. Email:

Amrita Bhoomi: Amrita Bhoomi was set up by the famous farmer leader of Karnataka, Late Prof Nanjundaswamy. The mission is to create models of rural autonomy and self respect. The Centre promotes principles of Swaraj based on food sovereignty, agro-ecological self reliant farming, seed sovereignty, collective farming and rural enterprises. It is located in Hondarabalu village of Chamarajanagar district of Karnataka. Email:; Phone: 08028604250

Manjula Ramakrishna/ Manju KS / Sreenivas work with Sahaja Seeds, Mysore, India’s first farmer owned organic seed company. Sahaja Samrudha, an organic farmers collective, has spearheaded a movement for the promotion of ecological agriculture through the revival of indigenous seeds. Sahaja seeds is “Of the farmers, for the farmers and by the farmers’. It allows the farmer and gardeners to multiply seeds of their own choice from the range of varieties the company offers. It markets these Open pollinated seeds that gives the opportunity to the farmers and gardeners to reproduce the seeds; not to depend on seed company and doesn’t need to buy them anymore. Sahaja Seeds markets traditional crop seeds, which can be grown organically. These seeds are suitable for the local climate, ecosystem and soil condition. As a result, use of chemicals is not required. It also gives the farmer and gardener the opportunity to improve the variety using natural selection, which enhances diversity. Phone: Manju KS – 7090009944, Sreenivas – 9900746499/ 7019301519

Seema is associated with Krishi Kala, Mysore. She has been working with farmers and seed savers for the last two decades. She is a creative artist and has been trying to revive and innovate art and culture around seeds and farming with the special use of gourds of different kinds. She started Krishikala afew years back supporting seed conservation work in Karnataka. Phone: +919606529606

Dr Ramanjaneyulu or Ramoo as he is known is a qualified agriculture extension scientist who used to be part of the ICAR system in the Government of India. He now heads Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in Hyderabad. CSA has been advocating for an open source seed system for long, and has set up a farmer producer company for organic seeds. Phone: 9000699702

Jagannath Majhi of Living Farms reflects what many fellow Kondh community members of Rayagada district of Odisha do – a deep sense of identity with the Adivasi way of life, and the ethos of the community. He and many other young Adivasis are trying to ensure that youth in the community understand the rich dietary cultures that they carry, especially in terms of uncultivated forest foods. They are free and organic, of course! Phone: 9668083599

Ananthoo is a telecom-engineer-turned-activist who is showcasing numerous successful models in value chain and retail marketing work related to cotton as well as other organic produce. His models are also non-profit, given that when he and his wife returned from Switzerland, they decide to not earn any more money in their lives. Tula is a desi cotton initiative which is fully handmade. The latest initiative that he is involved in is called India Hand Made Collective (IHMC). Phone: 9444166779

Saroj Mohanty, through Deshi Bihanu Surakhya Manch in Odisha, has been reviving traditional seed diversity in the state, including in difficult and challenging districts like Sambhalpur and Bargarh. His work to uphold farmers’ rights, in addition to setting up constructive alternatives on the ground is well-recognised. Phone: 08895157066

Aravinthan RP, Correspondent, and  Baskar P, Principal, of  St. John’s Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore have been involved in cultivating over 10 different types of crops including groundnut, sunflower, tomato, corn and pumpkin on their school premises during the lockdown with the help of eight teachers and three non-teaching faculty members. Phone: Aravinthan- 7639555088

Meenakshi Boopathi started Forgotten Foods group to bring together the information or memories or experience with natural foods which is seen dying in today’s modern world. She strongly believes that food is about biodiversity and we need to know how food diversity is linked to diversity in this world.If biodiversity disappears we will lose the food wealth on our plates. It will become a sterile package designed for universal size and taste and it will miss the personal touch. Find the group on Facebook

Swaminathan, Kaskom, Tamil Nadu: Swaminathan is a young talented biotechnologist from Tamilnadu working to revive traditional seeds. He started his work with Sahaja Samrudha and now focusing on reviving a particular cotton variety Karunganni and associated farming system in Tamilnadu and help farmers build a better livelihood. He has developed some products from Karungani cotton and has started to popularize them among consumers. Phone: 8884242965

Vasant and Karuna Futane are well known organic farmers and seed savers from Amravati, Maharashtra. They believe in sarvodaya. They have experimented a lot on soil improvement through various organic methods and train farmers on organic farming. The couple have motivated many youngsters to shift to organic farming and continue his mission very passionately. The Khadi spinning and weaving centre of Grama Seva Mandali was set up by Vinobha Bhave and using desi cotton organically grown, khadi fabric is created here by Karuna Futane and her team. Phone: 9422958767

Khamir is a platform for the crafts, heritage and cultural ecology of the Kachchh region of Gujarat. Instituted after the earthquake of 2001, it is a space for engagement and development of Kachchh’s rich creative industries. email:

Dr K Ramachandra Naik, principal scientist for All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Tuber Crops, functioning at the regional horticultural research and extension centre, Dharwad has been doing pioneering work in revival of native roots and tubers in Karnataka. Phone: 9449914821

N.M. Shaji is a farmer from Mananthavady in Wayanad district who has made it his life’s mission to conserve domesticated crop species. He has received National Biodiveristy Awards 2018 by National Biodiversity Authority (NBA). Mr. Shaji, who is conserving a wide spectrum of tuber crops, including wild tubers, paddy, and vegetables using organic cultivation methods, had also won the national Plant Genome Saviour Award in 2015.







24thand 25thOctober 2020

10 am to 2.30 pm


24th October 2020

Programme Speaker
Inaugural Session
10.00 – 11.00 Introduction to Online Seed Festival Jacob Nellithanam, National Convener, Bharat Beej Swaraj Manch
Seed Song Krishipathashala, Arangottukara, Kerala
Seed Mela Inauguration1. Seed Bank women’s group / Karnataka2.  Farmers’ Group / Punjab3. Farmers’ Group, Banswara, Rajasthan
Inaugural Speech Padma Shri Babulal Dahiya, Madhya Pradesh
Keynote Address Dr. Kuldeep Singh, Director, NBPGR, New Delhi
Story of  Beej Bachao Andolan Vijay Jardhari, , Uttarakhand
Rice is Life 
11.00 – 01.00 Intro to Save Our Rice Campaign Usha Soolapani, Thanal,Kerala
Rescuing India’s Rice Diversity From Extinction Dr. Debal Deb, Scientist and farmer, Basudha, Odisha
Rice Diversity of West Bengal Dr. Anupam Paul / Chinmay /Bhairab Saini, West Bengal
Rice Seed Selection –Demonstration Sanjay Patil, BAIF, Maharashtra
Rice Diversity Farms Ananda Teertha Pyati/ Syed Ghani Khan, Anjaneya and Shankar Langati, Karnataka
Black Rices of Manipur Devakanta, Manipur
Cultivating Rice Diversity Padma Shri Sabarmatee, Sambhav, Odisha
Beej Song Dr. Sunny Sandhu, France
Community Rice Processing Unit Rajesh Krishnan, Kerala
01.00 – 01.10 Desi Maize Flavor Julie Jain,  Banyan  Roots, Udaipur
Millet Magic
01.00 – 02.00 Know your Millets Dr Vilas Tonapi, Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad
Meet Millet farmers Ammaji / Andhra Pradesh
Ramji / Karnataka
Naresh / MP
Nilima Jhorwar / Maharashtra
Siba Prasad Sahu / Odisha
VAAGDHARA, Rajasthan
Akole Tsuhah / Nagaland
Dr. V.K. Kauthale, BAIF, Maharashtra
Millet Processing Dwijindranath Guru
02.00 – 02.25 Interaction with participants / OPEN SESSION Kavitha Kuruganti, Convener, ASHA
02.25 – 02.30 Vote of thanks Selvam Ramasamy, Tamil Nadu

DAY 2 – 25th October 2020
10.00 – 10.05 Welcome Sreedevi, Bio Basics, Tamil Nadu
10.05 – 10.10 Introduction Nagesh Hegde, Sahaja Samrudha
10.10 – 10.25 Diet, Diversity and Immunity Dr K.C. Raghu, Pristine Organics, Bangalore
The Wonder World of Vegetables
10.25 –12.10 Art of growing winter vegetables Neelam Dutta, Assam
Story of Women-run Seed Saving Collective Sunitha Rao, Vanastree, Karnataka
Vegetable Seed Saving: Preserving Diversity for Home Gardens Deepika Kundaji, Pebble Garden, Auroville
Release of Book:REVIVAL OF VEGETABLE DIVERSITY (Tamil) Ramasubramanian, Sustainable Livelihood Institute, Auroville
Community Seed bank / Organic Seed Production techniques Keshav, Amruthabhoomi, Karnataka
Linking Seed Producers to the Markets Manjula Ramakrishna/ Manju KS / Sreenivas / Sahaja Seeds, Mysore
Story of Krishikala – Gourd Art Seema, Krishikala, Mysore
Grow your own food
12.10 –12.45 Growing more from less space: Building rooftop gardens Dr. GV Ramanjaneyulu, Director, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad
School Gardens Aravinthan RP/ Baskar P, St. John’s Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore
Forgotten Foods Meenakshi Boopati, Bangalore
Revival of Desi Cotton
12.45 –01.35 Gandhi, Khadi and Desi Cotton Vasant and Karuna Futane, Gram Seva Mandal, Wardha, Maharashtra
Desi Cotton varieties of India Swaminathan, Kaskom, Tamil Nadu
Cotton to Cloth: Tula initiative Ananthoo, Tula/India Hand-Made Collective, Chennai
Return of Kala Cotton Ghatit Laheru, Khamir, Gujarat
The Roots and Tubers
01.35 – 02.10 Roots and Tubers: Hidden Treasure Dr. Ramchandra Nayak, UHS, Bagalkot, Karnataka
Forest Foods Channaraju, Pipal Tree, Karnataka;Living Farms, Odisha
02.10 – 02.20 Seed Declaration Bharat Mansata, BBSMSaroj Mohanty, Desi Bihan Manch
02.20 – 02.30 Conclusion Kapil Shah, ASHA

The organisers will try their best to run the program as per schedule. But some changes might be unavoidable.

Moderators: Krishna Prasad, Soumik Banerjee ,and  Anitha Reddy