‘The Farmer, the Architect and the Scientist’ by the Gaia Foundation, is a video documentary that showcases the work of Dr. Debal Deb. Shot in eastern India, the story goes on to highlight the methodologies adopted by the “seed hero” in order to save over 900 varieties of indigenous rice.
Architect Laurent Fournier, who was working hand-in-hand with Dr.Deb, proposed the use of local stone, brick and adobe style of sustainable construction for the ecological seed bank that would house the community seeds that would in-turn be used by the various small scale traditional farmers from Odisha. Laurent goes on to describe how the construction of the seed bank was extremely challenging given the lack of material availability and the difficulties in finding skilled and dedicated labor since every brick and every stone had to be manually adjusted and placed to form the perfect vaults and domes.
In the past, farmers across different regions cultivated different varieties of rice that were indigenous to that region. After the harvest, the seeds would be collected, stored and reused for the next crop. This would continue as a practice and over time, India had a mind boggling 110,000 varieties of indigenous rice. With changing times and cultivation practices, India has lost more than 90% of its indigenous varieties and many farmers are falling prey to large agricultural corporations such as Monsanto that genetically create seeds and have stringent seed harvesting policies.
With the population of the country on the rise and the demand for food exponentially increasing, it is essential to strengthen community farming methods and safe-guard crop varieties. The system adopted by Dr.Deb to enrich farming requires farmers that borrow seeds from the seed bank, to return double the amount of harvested seeds the next season. This ensures that the crop varieties remain indigenous while at the same time, the seed banks are enriched.
Social responsibilities such as this need to be valued more than they currently are since they are the only hope for the propagation of mankind.
All content, courtesy The Gaia Foundation.