The seed bank of Pastapur

A dozen Michigan State University students visited a tiny rural Indian village as part of a 2015 study abroad program in video production.

The village of Pastapur is in southern India, about 75 miles west of Hyderabad. The Deccan Development Society works there to empower women and promote self-sufficiency and sustainability.

The group is restoring farming practices and promoting the use of millets. One concern is the loss of native crop varieties. The organization has set up seed-banks to conserve biodiversity and inform villagers.

The MSU students produced this mini documentary about the Pastapur seed bank that was started in the 1990s.

Villagers don’t buy seeds from the government or retail stores anymore, she says. They preserve enough seeds to sow their farms with a variety of crops throughout the year.

A mixture of neem leaf powder, cow dung and other manures helps preserve the seeds for more than three years.

P.V. Satheesh, secretary of the Deccan Development Society and one of its founders, says that such efforts revolutionize rural lives.

Autonomy and localized efforts, especially in a diverse country like India, are important, he says. “We should never discount the rich knowledge reserves of rural India.”

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