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Farming Workshop

(Rice plantation workshop using heirloom seeds)

The tribal community of Veti Murbad, the village that host’s Design Jatra’s office, devotes monsoons entirely to farming. Everyone is expected to return to the village for farming rice, no matter what one has been doing or where one has been during the year. With the village youth returning back from toiling in the cities, it is now the time for rice farming!


We at Design Jatra have our own share of revelry and respite during the monsoons. All our construction sites shut after working hard during the summer and we focus on farming as well. Rather than a means for producing food, farming for us is an opportunity to get the community together. Taking advantage of the village’s inflated demographic, especially in terms of the returning youth, it is a chance to introduce sustainable practices back to the village.







(Right and bottom–Introducing a new plantation system, called SRI)

Realizing the socio-cultural importance of rice, we decided to start a seed conservation program for it. Farmers today, especially from the tribal community, cannot afford to farm rice because of the huge market dependencies on seeds, fertilizers, tools and sometimes even labour. All these were available freely in the pre-industrial era – heirloom seeds were passed from one generation to other, tools were made in the village itself, fertilizers came from livestock and labour came from sweat equity of the village. By intervening in the seed-saving process, we hope to reestablish all these systems. (More details in the seed bank page)


(Seed testing for the seed bank)

A part of the process is enabling community farming using heirloom seeds. With the help of Mr. Sanjay Patil from BIAF, we have been running the Heirloom Seed Conservation program in the village. We aim at forming small groups of village youth to farm with these heirloom seeds so as to make them available for a larger population as well as empowering the community to be the ones to sell them. We also aim at introducing newer and more scientific cultivation methods to the village through techniques like System of Rice Intensification (SRI), elaborating upon ways to make natural fertilizers like Jeevamrut, and through the use of natural seed treatment and traditional ways of seed storage. We now produce certain heirloom seeds for a larger distribution. At the same time, we are trying to diversify to other crops as well.
This process intends to increase the consumer’s awareness of native heirloom seeds and their benefits as well as of the perils of the farmer who cultivates these seeds. With these aims in mind, we host monsoon farming workshops. It is a great learning opportunity for both the community to see new value in their heirloom seeds and for the participants to discover an entirely unexplored side of the food supply chain.