A new film, ‘The Farmer, the Architect and the Scientist’ tells the story of a seed hero. Dr Debal Deb is a pioneering ecologist committed to working with traditional farmers in eastern India to conserve indigenous seed diversity. Over almost two decades, Debal has managed to save 920 varieties of rice, all of which he stores in community based seed banks in West Bengal and Odisha for farmers. This film follows the construction of a new seed bank premises in Odisha, a venture that provides a potent symbol of Debal’s values.
For those that saw Seeds of Freedom, the small-scale traditional farmers and their rich diversity of locally adapted seed varieties are being written out of the story of seed. They are the victims of an aggressive global lobbying effort, designed to convince a world terrified about food security that the corporatization of the global food system, involving transgenic seeds, is the only way to feed the world.
But there are those who dispute this narrative – seed heroes, men and women, from around the world – who understand that the key to a healthy food system lies in maintaining the immense local and regional bio-cultural diversity of seeds and traditional farming methods. Their work to uphold farmland and community resilience and health has never been more important.