By July 1, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

India’s ‘Seed Savior’ Goes Against the GMO Corporate Grain

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

Photographs: Jason Taylor/The Gaia Foundation

Debal Deb, a scientist, ecologist and farmer who is building a seed bank in India’s Odisha state, has helped to preserve 920 varieties of indigenous rice using traditional methods. Committed to working with local communities, he hopes to help make farmers independent of large corporations and GMO crops, and help secure their access to local seed varieties.

He stands, above, in the middle of his partly built seed bank in Odisha. He is using local, sustainable materials and local labour. Deb plans to use the seed bank to educate people about the importance of adopting a holistic, sustainable approach to farming. His work is geared around helping the people realize the importance of rejecting GMO seeds and crops, which are pushed on Indian farmers by Western corporations.

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

A local farmer prepares hay for drying in one of the more remote areas of Odisha. This valuable crop will be used to feed his cattle throughout the monsoon season

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

Deb works in a field at his first farm in West Bengal state. Apart from his work with rice, he is a key proponent of the ‘food web theory’, which aims to establish scientific proof of an overwhelmingly positive relationship between all plant and animal life

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

A field where Deb grows some of the 920 varieties of indigenous rice he has helped to save from extinction. Industrial agriculture and GM farming, which favour seed monocultures, have been partly responsible for the loss of more than 90% of India’s indigenous rice seed

5A traditional seed safe in a remote area of the Sunderbans. These safes ensure that farmers and the community are protected from shortages of seeds and food. Some agricultural biotech companies try to control the supply of seeds, and farmers can become dependent on buying GMO.

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

A traditional seed safe in a remote area of the Sunderbans. These safes ensure that farmers and the community are protected from shortages of seeds and food. Some agricultural biotech companies try to control the supply of seeds, and farmers can become dependent on buying GMO seeds.

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

Architect Laurent Fournier mixes local cement made from river clay, sand and soil. Everything about the seed bank is organic, even the methods of construction. To avoid using felled timber to support the roof, Fournier has taken inspiration from an Egyptian architect, Hassan Fathy, who rediscovered the technique of building ancient Nubian vaults and domes using adobe bricks

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

Kalyani, one of Fournier’s students from Kolkata, helps build the adobe vaulted roof. Women from the local village volunteer to help in the construction, in the hope that the building and its future contents will benefit their community

The Farmer, The Architect and The Scientist

Deb and Fournier stand on one of the support pillars of the unfinished seed bank. Fournier says he took inspiration for the construction from the mountains that surround the farm, which London-listed company Vedanta wants to mine for bauxite.

Projects such of these deserve the support and recognition of communities all over the world. Why isn’t the media paying more attention to them?

It is up to us to spread the word!

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