India's genome saviours

Farmers and organisations who have won government recognition this year for conserving seeds of indigenous crops and plant species

By Jyotika Sood
Published: Thursday 23 May 2013

Every year, the Indian government acknowledges farmers and organisations who have been conserving germplasm of indigenous plant species. The Indian Genome Saviour Awards are given by Protetction of Plant Varieties and Farmers Right Authority, a statutory body under the Ministry of Agriculture. This year the awards were given in three categories:

  • Four Plant Genome Saviour Community Award, carrying a citation and cash price Rs 10 lakh each
  • 10 Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Reward, carrying a citation and cash price of Rs 1 lakh each
  • 15 Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Recognition, carrying a citation

A look at this year's winners

Winners of Plant Genome Saviour Community Award

Seed Saver Farmers' Group

Winner: Seed Saver Farmers ' Group

Based in: Jawhar block in Thane, Maharashtra

Achievement: The group of around 700 farmers is involved in conservation and revival of indigenous varieties of cereals, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables and fruits in tribal areas. Their best known work is conserving varieties of paddy, finger millet and proso millet. These include paddy that is drought-resistant, resistant to water logging and those with medicinal properties—the calcium and phosphorous-rich vriety aid in fracture recovery. Besides, the farmers here have innovative methods of seed treatment, seed storage, pest and disease management

Akampadam Chimpachala Padasekara Samithy

Winner: Rice farming community of Palakkad, Kerala

Based in: Palakkad, Kerala

Achievement: The award was given to Akampadam Chimpachala Padasekara Samithy, representing rice farming in the district. The farmers here are conserving traditional rice varieties like Aryan, Thekkan and Navara. Rice varieties from Palakkad are resistant and tolerant to major biotic and abiotic stresses and are accepted as a gene donors in global rice programmes. These communities also helped to develop two high yielding varieties of Kunjukunju Varna and Kunjukunju Priya, selected from Kunjukunju variety

Sanjeevini Rural Development Society

Winner: Sanjeevini Rural Development Society

Based in: Killoguda village, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh

Achievement: The society has brought more than 5,000 acres (one acre equals 0.4 ha) of land, including 2,000 acres of Poduland, under paddy, ragi, pulses, corn and vegetables. The society manages 33 grain banks for storage of traditional foodgrains, especially to ensure availability during drought periods. The society believes in sustainable agriculture and promotes cultivation of traditional varieties in villages. Many landraces of various crops like cereals, millets, small millets, oilseeds, pulses and vegetables have been conserved and grown by farmers associated with SRDS

Deepaoli Women's Self Help Group

Winner: Deepaoli Women's Self Help Group

Place: Pudu Pattu village, Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu

Achievement: The tribal group here are cultivating several crops like little millet, paddy, horse gram and fruits. The village has saved around twenty landraces of little millets. Unique types of ragi called Vellai poo ragi and cumbu (Pudu Pattu type) have also been conserved by tribal communities of the village.


Winners of Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Reward
  1. P Devakanta (Manipur): He is engaged in the conservation of local varieties of rice, including Kumbi, Changlei and Moirang phou khokngangbi
  2. Mahaveer Singh Arya (Rajasthan): He is engaged in conservation of wheat, mustard, radish, pearl millet and cluster bean. He has developed wheat varieites Kishan Kranti, Vardan Pragati and Mahan
  3. Vasavan N (Kerala): He has conserved 30 varieties of cashew, four of areca nut, two of pepper, 10 of coconut, 20 of jack fruit and 7 varieties of medicinal plants. He has also developed innovative method for controlling tea mosquito bug in cashew
  4. Purnanand Venkatesh Bhat (Karnataka): Bhat is conserving varieties of nutmeg, pepper, areca nut, coconut and turmeric, and has been distributing it to growers in coastal areas in southern India. He has developed innovative methods for identification of monoecious, bio-sexual plant at seedling stage
  5. Jai Prakash Singh (Uttar Pradesh): His conservation effort ranges from wheat, paddy, pigeon pea to kidney bean, mustard and wood apple. He has also developed a wheat variety—JP 8661—and is also working for conservation of cereals, pulses and oilseeds.
  6. Pravat Ranjan Dey (West Bengal): Conserving sweet and scented mango variety, Sujata, and promoting it among 60 farmers brought laurels for Dey
  7. Tanmayee Chakravarty (West Bengal): This woman farmer has conserved 11 varieties of rice which include Radhatilak, Gobindabhog, Megi along with 52 varieties of medicinal plants
  8. Chandrashekher Singh (Uttar Pradesh): He has conserved Virjan, a red-rice variety and Paddy-khushboo 1-S
  9. Ciby George (Kerala): His has conserved four varieties of coconut, 10 of areca nut, 11 of nutmeg, four of pepper and five of mango
  10. Narendra Singh Sipani (Madhya Pradesh): He has developed wheat varieties Waman, Dronacharya, Mohan Wonder, Dry Wonder; maize varieties, Amrit, Star 2001, Star 2011, Star 2026 and Star 2042; soybean varieties, Kuber, chamatkar and chatarbhuj. He has also developed varieties of pigeon pea


Winners of Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Recognition
  1. Roshan Lal Sharma (Himachal Pradesh): Has conserved seeds of cereals, oilseeds, vegetables, fruit plants, medicinal plants and practices agroforestry
  2. Tulsi Das Sav (Chattisgarh): Is conserving varieties of banana, mango, papaya, ginger and turmeric that have higher productivity and are disease resistant
  3. Sandeep Brahm Bhatt (Gujarat): Has been conserving medicinal plants, khairi, kanghi, salai guggal, gudhal, ratti, kalihari and kanasa
  4. Sumanta Misra (West Bengal): Has been engaged in saving and development of chilli varieties Golden pasha and Akashu, lime (Kagzi), pointed gourd (parwal), guava, cotton and pulses
  5. Shiv Nath Yadav (Chattisgarh): Has conserved and developed paddy varieties, Shiv Darohar -1 and Shiv Darohar 2.
  6. Syed Ghani Khan (Karnataka): Has been awarded for conservation of mango varieties and using traditional methods of cultivation
  7. Subash Chander Misra (Punjab): Has conserved pear variety Max Barlett Red
  8. Sunil Mahadu Kamadi (Maharashtra): He is engaged in conservation of paddy variety Ashwani, finger millet variety Dasarbendri, proso-millet variety Dudhmogra, black gram, pigeon pea and sorghum
  9. Mavanji Ganpat Pawar (Maharashtra): He is engaged in conservation of paddy, finger millet, proso millet, local vegetables and forest species
  10. Sajeevan Kavumkara (Kerala): Has been engaged in the development of food diversity centre, farm school and conservation of wild leafy species (edible) for food security of conserved crops
  11. Shankar Langati (Karnataka): He is conserving varieties of rice, vegetables, millets and pulses
  12. Manik Saikia (Assam): He is engaged in the conservation of deep water, low lying rice variety - negheri bao. His variety is used as donor parent in a variety development programmes, leading to two released Bao varieties for flood prone area of Assam
  13. Jitul Saikia (Assam): He has conserved 12 landraces of muga host plants that produce very good quality of silk, and its different species like soom, soalu, mezankari, dighloti, gondhsorai and patititunda and their wild relatives
  14. Suren Bora (Assam): Has conserved and developed sali rice variety Solpona, including varieties Borjahinga, Biroi and Jurai Khowa
  15. Muobatsinh Mamuji Sindhal (Gujarat): He is engaged in conservation of guggal, a resinous medicinal plant


The second report on the State of the Worlds Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

Module on documenting womens knowledge in agriculture

Adapting to climate change: conserving rice biodiversity of the Apatani tribe in North East India

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