Farmer Papamma and the seeds of unlimited possibilities


Forty years of organic farming means not just gaining expertise in this field. It means one has turned it into a profession of hope. Notwithstanding the rough-and-tumble of every waking hour. The endless stream of work. The never-ending learning curves. The back-breaking manual labour under the scorching sun and the searing cold. The constant pressure (if I can say that) of tending to your farm to prevent it from withering. You put yourself through all the rough and tumble, weather all the weather patterns gracefully. Because you believe in what you are doing.

Sometimes, you took to it willingly. Sometimes, you did so because you had no other go. You simply did not know anything better. But you work to excel at it. In the process, you get wounded, you heal, you rebounce, you resurrect and you restore yourself and the Nature around you. So much so that we, the urbanites, can barely begin to understand what it takes for our rural farming counterparts to keep at it so that all that’s left for us to do is to walk into a supermarket and fill our baskets with farm produce wrapped in plastic and be done with it.

Papamma is from Kurubarahalli, Kolar district, a winner of ‘Rajya Prashasthi’. An amazing farmer with unparalleled expertise in seed collection that she has learnt over decades. Her methods of collecting heirloom seeds, growing them, harvesting them and storing them has earned her reputation she richly deserves. She is also known for her lake rejuvenation work.

Yesterday, I was lucky to meet her for the second time at an event organized by SOIL Vasu and another amazing farmer Prabhakara Buddappa at Byrakuru, Mulabagilu, to spread awareness on soil health on the occasion of World Soil Day where she was felicitated for obvious reasons. What you see in the picture are seeds from her farm which she brought as samples for display. The sheer variety of pulses, fruits and vegetables seeds, the colours and the texture were such a lovely sight to behold!

I am not sure if there is any other act of defiance that matches the sheer power of sowing an heirloom seed. With it Papamma has defied the whole world—its market monopolies, its outright rankness, its vanity, its hubris and its reckless march towards genetic modifications. She has set up her own Utopian enterprise with a few seeds in hand. She moves around this universe fraught with uncertainties with confidence because of the faith she has in her seeds and the unlimited possibilities they offer. She grows food not just for herself but to protect the seed’s right to sprout, its purpose to feed life on Earth and allow it to flourish endlessly.

She emerges beyond the boundaries of small-mindedness of this world and its cacophony. She stays resilient and keeps sowing and growing along with it. Most important of all, she challenges its brash stupidity that sees the price of everything and the value of nothing.

More power to you, Papamma!

Contact number of Papamma: 9731219766

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