Interviewed by K.Bharath Reddy-
Shri Babulal Dahiya an accomplished poet and farmer from Pithorabad village in Satna District of Madhya Pradesh has been conserving 125 Folk Rice Varieties as well as a number of indigenous varieties of Wheat, Barley, Millets etc.
His passion lies in protecting and conserving environment through the region ancestral knowledge. His work was recognized by State Biodiversity Boards, Environmental organizations and he received many accolades including Padma Shree which is India’s fourth highest civilian award.
Image Credits: Bharath Reddy
Excerpt from the interview
1. What do you think “ Living in harmony with nature” means to you?
Now a days we are seeing that people are looking everything at economic value. That is good, at the same time we should also realize that we didn’t come from other planet here. It’s our earth too. We have to own it ecologically more because we have exploited so much that going ahead we may have to buy oxygen. Self realization is important, once people realize this aspect, you not only “live in harmony” but
you will be “loving in harmony with nature”.
2. What made you to conserve 200 varieties of rice in your farmland?
It was again motivation, but what made me to conserve is that, rice has been cultivated for thousand’s of generations in our land. Earlier there used to be only a wild variety of rice. Our ancients developed hybrid varieties of rice from several wild varieties in thousands. Our farmers understood the genetics and pollination process without any education. But I was disappointed to see that those varieties have been lost and we have only several hundred varieties left because all our farmers now use a single hybrid variety of biotech companies.
3. Why do you say so and what’s so important with the different varieties of rice?
Because in all varieties of rice we get different nutrients and even in some disease fighting component. Our ancient people understood it because what nature gives you is for your proper growth and body development. Now with biotech varieties we don’t have much options with nutrient availability in crops.
4. What are the challenges of farming practices and what can be done going ahead?
The main thing is the income the farmer receives now, earlier a farmer used to earn the amount equal to ten grams of gold every month, now we are nowhere near that. That’s why people compared a farmer with the gold. Incentives and schemes should be developed to create markets for traditional crops. And important thing is farming profession is dying. So its very important that youngsters should try to retain in agriculture sector.
Image Credits: Bharath Reddy
Shri Babulal Dahiya is affiliated to a non-profit organization named Sarjana Samajik Sanskratic Evam Sahityatik Manch, Pittaurabad, Satna, M.P. He has written several poems and documented local songs of tribal festivals, rituals, customs and traditions in Bagheli language, the local dialect.
I was fascinated and inspired to see that he has been so passionately involved in biodiversity conversation through ancient knowledge and it was an honor and privilege to talk with him on the importance of biodiversity conservation.