About 500-odd organic farmers in Gujarat are trying to develop individual seed banks in a bid to resist the onslaught of genetically modified seeds.
"The farmers are now developing seed bank as a measure against the invasion of genetically modified seeds," Organic Farming Association of India president Sarvdaman Patel said.
The biggest advantage of developing seed banks is reduced cost.
A bank of organic seeds will not only ensure reduced cost, but also assure good yield and above all good health to people, said Patel, who owns an organic farm in central Gujarat's Anand district.
"10 grams tomato seed, for example, costs Rs 400 in the market.
"But every few months, a new company emerges in the market with a new, costly hybrid seed, which may guarantee better yield but not in the longer run," he said.
As and when the farmers succeed in developing the seed bank, they will be taught to store and preserve it in bottles, shelf or any dark place.
"Once they develop seed banks, we have assured them of educating them how to store and utilise these seeds through workshops and seminars across the country," he said.
However, developing seed banks will take time as it involves several selection trials to identify a good quality seed.
"Sometimes it takes two to three years in selection trials, and once the selection trials are over, only then can a quality seed be developed," Patel said.
As of now, some farmers in the state have developed individual seed banks of wheat, rice and some vegetables.
Patel also regretted that the present day farmers were unaware of the old practices and techniques of preserving seeds.
"Today, farmers don't plan which seed they will sow this year. Earlier, farmers used to sow different seeds every year to know which will benefit them the most," he said.
The input cost of organic seeds is just 2 per cent of the production while that of hybrid seeds is 15 per cent, Patel said, while adding that some north-eastern states, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand are into organic farming in an elaborate manner.
By default, close to 50 per cent of farmers in the country are into organic farming as they are unable to afford pesticides and chemical fertilisers, he claimed.
The photograph is used for representational purpose only