The principle is local self-sustainability, depending on the locally produced seeds of indigenous varieties, and access to the seed bank for everybody -
Not in exchange of money, but in exchange of varieties.
Dr. Debal Deb, Founder of the rice seed bank Vrihi
In 1997, the Indian ecologist Dr. Debal Deb established Vrihi (Sanskrit name for Rice), the first non-governmental rice seed bank in West Bengal. Since then, Dr. Deb and his colleagues at the Centre For Interdisciplinary Studies (CIS) have succeeded in halting the genetic diversity loss of the rice plant and re-established the vanishing ancient culture of seed exchange in West Bengal. With over 600 traditional rice varieties cultivated in situ and distributed freely to farmers from 18 districts, Vrihi has become the largest rice seed exchange center in Eastern India. In this interview held at the De-Growth Conference 2010 in Barcelona, Dr. Deb explains the principles and the vision of Vrihi for biodiversity conservation, knowledge transfer and non-commercial seed exchange within and beyond India's indigenous communities. The project's success suggests that sustainable agricultural practices can consistently prevail over the high-yielding rice varieties propagated in industrialized agriculture.
We thank the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Berlin for funding this interview.
Centre for Interdiscplinary Studies, 08/13/2010