Women at the forefront of preserving of traditional millet varieties – Role of community seed bank in preserving and aiding millet cultivation and consumption in Kolli Hills, Namakkal
The second story is about the community seed bank system in practice in Kolli hills, Namakkal. These seed banks are predominantly run and maintained by tribal women farmers of Kollimalai. Altogether they have conserved and sustained around 20 varieties of traditional millets, native to Kolli hills.
The community seed bank system ensures that the traditional varieties are conserved. Farmers who receive seeds from the bank had to return the seeds twice in quantity. This model of community based and community led initiatives have proved to be successful as farmers get positive yield and enough buffer stock of seeds are maintained. Started with a small group of farmers, now 100s of farmers are actively engaged with the community seed banks.
Traditional knowledge and varieties are thus sustained. Farmers tell that the traditional varieties that were abandoned for a generation are being cultivated now. Major part of their produce goes for their own consumption, which ensures sufficient nutritional levels. Farmers also sell and market their produce and also do value addition. Value added products are being sold through outlets. Strengthening of the entire supply chain from cultivation to commerce ensure self sufficiency and strengthens their livelihood opportunities.
This article was first pPublished in BBC News Tamil on 13 August, 2023
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.