odisha’s father-daughter duo: Conservation measures fetch Padma award to Odisha’s father-daughter duo | Bhubaneswar News timesofindia.indiatimes.com


BHUBANESWAR: More than three decades ago the father-daughter duo Prof Radhamohan and Sabarmati had sown the seed of organic farming in a small patch of land in Nayagarh district, which has now become a huge tree spreading its roots deep as a state wide movement.
Apart from organic farming they have made phenomenal work in conservation of forests, water and soil harvesting and collection of more than 800 varieties of indigenous seeds. Their efforts got recognition as they have been nominated for Padma Shree award this year.
“Excess use of fertilizers not only reduced productivity of soil but also adversely affected the environment. We spoke to farmers about practicing organic farming and they said it is a good idea but difficult to do it practically. So we decided to demonstrate it and started Sambhav (possible), an organisation to work on organic farming, environment and set up a resource centre for farmers,” said Radhamohan, a retired economics professor.
Radhamohan and his daughter Sabarmati- a conservationist selected a small patch of land that was highly degraded with eroded soil and full of rain cuts, rills and gullies due to lack of any conservation measures. Initially a lot of efforts were made to restore the soil and farming was started.
“Many experts said it was a bad idea but we decided to make it possible. People also said that a bunch of crazy people are wasting their time and money here. We not only created a food forest by planting trees like mango, litchi, jackfruit, chiku, sapeta and several timber varieties but also protected thousands of acres of natural forest,” said Radhamohan added.
In Sambhav they implemented all techniques of organic farming and used cattle manure, bio-gas slurry, used all agro-waste and mulching. The area has over 1000 species of plants and 500 varieties of rice also supported a seed bank with over 800 varieties of seeds.
“Apart from practicing organic farming we are giving training to farmers on sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation. We collected many climate resilient seed varieties that can survive the challenges of climate change from farmers and again distributing them to other farmers so that more variety can be produced. Farmers have started accepting organic farming,” said Sabarmati. She also initiated ‘Adopt a seed’ programme in which interested farmers are given indigenous seeds and take oath to preserve them.

Over the years, Sambhav has been developed as a state-level resource centre for organic farming where people from across the state, India and also from other countries get training on methods of organic farming.
“We are happy about Padma Shree but we never expected this award. The centre is quite self-sustainable but more facilities are required for research on it. We are facing challenges of manpower constraints and monkey menace and expecting support from volunteers,” Radhamohan added.
The lush green fields, the serene atmosphere, beautiful waterbodies, unique ecology seed bank and food forests Sambhav has become a popular weekend gateways for nature lovers as well.

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