CHITWAN, June 13: With paddy plantation season nearing, farmers of Chitwan are busy preparing seedbeds to sow paddy seeds. Most of them are sowing seeds of one or two varieties. But Chandra Prasad Adhikari, a local farmer, has sowed 103 varieties of paddy seeds in his seedbeds.
Adhikari is doing so to preserve indigenous paddy varieties. “I am not doing this for domestic consumption or to earn money by selling saplings. Increasing use of hybrid and improved seeds is putting native paddy varieties on the verge of extinction,” he said, adding: “This is my initiative to preserve native varieties.”
A leader of organic farming, Adhikari started preserving indigenous paddy species some eight years ago. He started by preparing seedlings of nine indigenous varieties of paddy. In just 10 years, he is preparing seedlings of over 100 varieties of paddy.
Adhikari has saved paddy varieties like Achhami Masino, Dudhraj, Mannsara and Aapjhotte, which were on the verge of extinction some years ago. He has also protected rare paddy varieties like Pahadiya Anadi and Rato Anadi.
Though Mansuli is an improved variety of paddy, very few farmers grow Mansuli these days. “Indigenous varieties are less likely to be infected by pests. Farmers should have seeds in stock. But these days they go to the market at the beginning of the plantation season. Also the use of chemicals to control pests and disease is on the rise which is not good,” he told Republica.
Adhikari does not use any chemical fertilizer in his fields. Though his family consumes indigenous paddy varieties grown in his farm, Adhikari makes sure that five to 10 kilograms of each variety is saved for the next plantation season. He also sells seeds to other farmers. This year he sold seeds of Ghyu Puri, Jhumki, Mithai and Aachhami Masino varieties to local farmers.