Vrihi Rice Seed Exchange Centre
managed by A. Boit
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. The traditional rice varieties are cultivated on Basudha farm (= 'Earth Mother' in Bengali), a small (1.7 acre) farm in the midst of paddy fields close to a forest in southwest Bengal. Basudha aims to conserve Bengal’s vanishing rice varieties; encourage, demonstrate and support organic farming and traditional methods of multiple cropping; and preserve and develop local knowledge of biodiversity and its uses. Basudha is a partner of the nationwide anti-WTO movement, and locally engaged in non-formal education and heuristic science teaching for the rural youth. Basudha also gives practical training in ecological agriculture.