The Kolkata Seed Festival, the first of its kind in eastern India, was hosted by this city from April 27 to 29. Its focus was on celebrating and conserving India’s rich heritage of crop diversity. The UN, incidentally, has declared this decade as the ‘International Decade of Biodiversity’.
The Festival received a warm and enthusiastic reception from visitors.
On the 27th April, a seminar on ‘Agro-biodiversity and Ecological Agriculture’ was organized by Development Research Communication and Services Centre (DRCSC). Prof RN Basu, former Vice Chancellor of Kolkata University, delivered the inaugural address, followed by the keynote address by Ardhendu Chatterjee, and talks by Prof Sourin Bhattacharjee and Dr Anupam Pal. The latter, associated with the Biodiversity Conservation Farm of the West Bengal Government’s Agricultural Training Centre, Fulia, spoke on the wealth and importance of our indigenous rice varieties. Bharat Mansata of Earthcare, a joint organizer of the Seed Festival – along with DRCSC, Development and Justice Initiative, Richharia Campaign and Greenpeace – spoke on the aim and relevance of the Seed Festival. Deepika Kundaji of Pebble Garden, Auroville, Pondicherry, gave a presentation on the 90 varieties of food crops, the seeds of which she has been meticulously conserving, propagating and sharing among home gardeners and farmers. This was followed by a talk by Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samruddha, Karnataka – on the rice and millet farmer-breeders of his state. Jaiprakash Singh, a widely reputed and popular farmer-breeder of Uttar Pradesh spoke about his work on selecting and breeding vigorous seed varieties of rice, wheat, pigeon-pea and mustard.
Alongside the Seminar, about 10 farmer groups from different parts of West Bengal, displayed the seed varieties locally conserved, multiplied and shared by them through their community seed banks.
On the 28th and and 29th April weekend, the Kolkata Seed Festival shifted to a larger, centrally located venue outside Earthcare Books at 10 Middleton Street, with a vibrant, festive ambiance. The seed conservation groups from 7 states of India and 7 districts of West Bengal displayed their seed varieties here. Apart from the those mentioned earlier, the participants included Sambhav from Orissa, and Swala and Swadhina from Jharkhand.
Besides the display of seeds, posters and leaflets, there were numerous books, organic products, organic foods, and terra cotta sculptures by Ram Manna on sale. Some seed varieties were also on sale, while other seeds were…
Read here the ‘Seed Declaration, India, 2012’ which was endorsed by the participants of the Seed Festival and proclaims the natural rights of farmers and gardeners to freely use and share their collective heritage of agrobiodiversity and related knowledge, without any restriction or hindrance.