Farmers are happy with Mamudpur Seed HutDr. M. A. Sobhan and Jahangir Alam Jony || Sunday 09 February 2014 ||
Mamudpur Nayakrishi Seed Hut (NSH) started its journey in 2001. UBINIG has been holding training session, exposure visit, farmer exchange, festival in Mamudpur and adjoining other villages on biodiversity based farming. Rina Begum along with other farmers of Mamudpur village received Nayakrishi (Biodiversity based farming) training conducted by UBING. Since then they have been practicing Nayakrishi. Gradually the other farmers started joining Nayakrishi. These activities have created awareness for conservation and management of PGR at community level. Rina Begum along with other Nayakrishi farmers realized the importance of seed conservation and became interested to collect local seeds for the improvement of their livelihood integration. Accordingly they made decision for establishing a NSH at Mamudpur village. As a Nayakrishi farmer, Rina Begum along with her husband Mainuddin started collecting local seed varieties and storing them in their own house. After becoming a member of the Nayakrishi Seed Network (NSN) for collection and maintenance of seeds of local varieties Rina decided to establish a Seed Hut in her village on a piece of land donated by her. It was collective decision made by community, in general, through consultation with UBINIG. The land was donated by Rina Begum as she wanted to run the NSH. Rina along with women and men from four other villages discussed in a NSN meeting about setting up a secured backup system of seed conservation at community level.
In a Seed Hut a group of farming households jointly take responsibility to look after their seeds and genetic resources collected and regenerated on behalf of a community of farmers. However, the responsibility of collection and regeneration of seeds is a collective responsibility of the NSN members. Women are well aware of risks involved in conservation of seeds at household level. These risks include loss of seeds during flooding time and male family members selling seeds from the individual store in times of need. The Mamudpur Nayakrishi Seed Hut is linked to the Community Seed Wealth Centre (CSW) with support of the UBINIG Tangail Center. UBINIG is a policy research organisation working with the farming community. Nayakrishi Andolon (the New Agricultural movement) is a farmers’ initiative for biodiversity based farming.
More than 20 farmers practicing Nayakrishi in Mamudpur village joined the NSH led by Rina Begum, Tara Banu and Tafizudddin. At present, a committee of 11 including 7 women and 4 men members are responsible for operating the NSH. Since 2009, UBINIG, in collaboration with Community based Biodiversity Management (CBM) South Asia Programme have been providing support to the construction of the seed hut, training of farmers, repairing and maintenance of NSH, seed production, regeneration and distribution of seeds among the farmers. The farmers provided physical labour for construction, management and maintenance and take care of running the day to day activities, such as production, regeneration and enhancement of plant genetic resources at the community level. After establishment of the NSH the Nayakrishi farmers have been regularly maintaining local seed through collection, conservation and regeneration. These activities helped enhancement of PGR at community level.
Functions and activities
There are 1350 farmers from four villages including Mamudpur, Ghunikishore, Baraiatia and Kuchiamari villages directly involved with the activities of the NSH. Mamudpur is declared as a Nayakrishi village. In regard to Mamudpur NSH there is a committee namely ‘Specialized Women Seed Network (SWSN)’. This committee was formed by UBINIG in consultation with the community. The members of this committee are the key actors for conservation and maintenance of PGR. The main species in NSH include cereals - rice (17), wheat (1), barley (1) pulses (5), oilseeds (6), vegetables (40), spices (11) and fiber crop (2). The poor and marginal Nayakrishi farmers prefer local seeds for their resistance to common pests and pathogens. Moreover the HYV and hybrid seeds are costly and involved the application of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and irrigation. Therefore they joined Nayakrishi through practicing biodiversity based farming and use the local seeds from NSH.
During 2010 to 2012, a total of 974 farmers including 349 in 2010, 217 in 2011 and 308 farmers in 2010 have received, multiplied and regenerated seeds including rice, vegetables, pulses, oil seeds, spices from Mamudpur NSH. The women farmers are very keen to take seed from the NSH for cultivation of vegetables and fruits. Local seeds of vegetables and fruits are adapted to mixed culture in homestead area and adjoining highlands. The women farmers are very familiar and experienced especially on home gardening management. Therefore they take local varieties of seeds for vegetables and fruits
During a season, the seeds are distributed among the Nayakrishi farmers on demand and with the commitment to deposit seed in the NSH after the crop harvest. The women farmers, who come to visit their relatives also take and deposit seeds in the NSH.
The neglected and underutilized seeds are collected, regenerated and maintained with special care because these seeds are least used and grown by only few farmers. During 2010, 12 of the lesser used crops identified and regenerated by the NSH included safflower (oil seed), satpotal (a rare variety of ridged gourd), elephant foot yam, bean, local red radish, aniseed, tosa jute, finger millet and number of local varieties of rice including Begun Bichi, Chitkashaita, Hiali baron, Sadabaronlakkhidigha, Shamubanga, Karchamuri, Ashaira. Eight farmers are involved in identifying endangered and threatened species and varieties for collection, multiplication and maintenance. The NSH has been playing a vital role in taking stock of these resources in the community and to promote an appropriate strategy for multiplication and maintenance. Farmers are actively conserving barley (sadapaira), fox tail millet (kaon), sesame (pachsiratil), chili (dhanimarich), examples of neglected or under-utilized in the past but now important in terms of adaptability to changing environmental condition and yield potential. The NSH has given special attention for conservation of such varieties through collection and exchange with other NSH in the area.
Five farmers are experienced in handling rice seeds while nine are experienced in vegetables, pulses, and spices. The assigned seed producing farmers are given 14 varieties including rice (8), vegetables (4), pulses (2) and for oil seed (2). The surplus seeds are available in the Nayakrishi sales outlet. The NSH is participating in a varietal improvement program of selecting aus (Aus is a pre monsoon rain dependent short duration rice varieties grown during Khafif 1 season. There are 277 aus rice varieties now under cultivation in Bangladesh) rice combining drought tolerance and high yield.
Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) at Upazila and district level has regular communication and use the seed materials from Mamudpur NSH. During 2012, DAE collected 17 accessions of local rice seed from Mamudpur NSH. Nayakrishi farmer researchers regularly use the seed materials form Mamudpur NSH. Among the Nayakrishi farmers there are five farmer researchers from Mamudpur village conducting research including productivity, land pattern suitability and selection of new varieties. They receive seeds from the NSH for conducting research. The research findings are used by the general farmers for higher yield and quality grain.
Generally men are engaged in rice, vegetables, and spices production in the field. On the other hand women remain busy in growing vegetables in the homestead land. The major vegetables include amaranth, okra, bean, water gourd, ash gourd, sweet gourd, chili, string bean, sponge gourd, turmeric, Indian spinach, and snake gourd. Women are also engaged in post harvest activities of major crops.
The traditional knowledge is key to the practice of Nayakrishi. For example, unblemished fruits free from infection and pest infestation are selected for seed harvesting. Rice panicles of a certain length with a high number of grains are harvested separately for seed collection. The grains are threshed and dried in the sun separately. Quality control is done by a bite check. After complete dying the grains are cooled and stored in containers. The opening of the container is sealed properly and saved in a cool place in the store. In case of earthen pots, the opening of the container is sealed with a mixture of fresh cow dung and mud. Seeds with a thick seed coat are stored in transparent bottles and those with a thin seed coat are stored in colour bottles. Pulse and wheat seeds are stored in tin containers. Neem leaves are kept in the store around the seed containers in order to keep the seed free from disease and insect infestations.
There are two committees responsible for management and coordination of the NSH: the Natural Resource Auditing Committee (NRAC) is comprised of 7 members and the Specialized Women Seed Network (SWSN) of 11 members. The latter are engaged in seed drying, drying of the seed containers, cleaning of the NSH, regularly drying the stored seed, collecting seed from the harvested plants, seed drying and storing seed. The SWSN committee sits every week for a meeting to approve the season based cropping plan, seed distribution and seed exchanges. Nayakrishi farmers and members of SWSN participate in the regular meetings of the NSH. Every Nayakrishi farmer has access to deposit and exchange seed and genetic resources from this NSH. The Mamudpur NSH has regular communication with the Atia Union Parishod (local goverment institution), DAE at Delduar sub district and Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB) of Delduar.
Links and networking
The NSH has been regularly participating in the Agriculture and Plants fair organized by the Upazila Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE). Last 5 years Mamudpur NSH with the collaboration of Community Seed Wealth Center (CSWC) participated in Agriculture and Plants fair of DAE and got first prize. In addition the NSH has been participating in different events organized by NGOs and other civil organizations. The NSH is a component of the NSN which in turn maintains a link with the Gene bank of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS).
The use of local varieties of crops has increased along with more use of on-farm resources including cow dung, compost, crop diversification, mixed cropping, reduced use of chemical fertilizer and no use of pesticides. More and more farmers are growing local varieties of seeds and the number of farmers are gradually increasing.
Mamudpur NSH has 89 varieties of crops with associated knowledge in their own hand those are suitable for flood plain agro ecological condition. The farmers feel confident and believe that this is their strength. Out of 89 varieties, 15 varieties are identified and recognized as adaptated in the changing climatic condition. In the recent past the rainfall pattern and soil moisture condition have become variable. Sometimes there is drought and in other times in the same period there is heavy rain followed by inundation. The farmers are now selecting rice varieties which can grow in dry condition and can adapt if there is inundation and flood. Based on farmers climate observation and practical experiences they have selected following crops those are suitable in the changing climatic condition. These are follows:
Sustainability and prospects
The project builds up capacity of community through good collection and conservation of locally suitable crops seeds in the Mamudpur NSH. The present status of NSH is helpful to cooperate with the community to improve their livelihood and food sovereignty even with less support from the project. The community is now able to hold meetings at their own initiatives and will also incur cost for running NSH through their own contribution. The NSH will multiply the seeds. The seeds will be used by the members and the surplus seeds will be sold among the farmers. The money saved from the sale proceed of seed will be used for running the NSH.
The farmers are happy and have a peaceful mind.