Community owned sovereign seed systems

Laxmi Khila leading her community at Malkangiri village, Odisha, India

Her entire village learned the natural farming practices from her and are using low cost & no cost farm inputs. Laxmi has been supporting to the other farmers in seed selection, seed conservation, NPM preparation, seed assessment with crop planning, seed treatment and digging of low cost Rain water harvest sinks. Her approach to farming is based diverse seed systems.

Laxmi Khila saves her seeds and share seeds with fellow farmers of her village. She has more than 65 varieties of diverse seeds from paddy, millets, pulses, oilseeds, tubers and vegetables. Retaining legacy of her late father Arjun Dura, she has been a resilient grassroots women farmer leader to steer the power of the local seeds and cropping system that endures the local natural resource base. Laxmi Khila and husband Sukhadeva have been the driving force for the 72 odd adivasi families resettled here at Malelguda village in Markapalli grampanchayat in Malkangiri block. All the families were displaced from the submerged villages Machkund dam in Koraput district around 30years ago. Most of the lands rendered to the families are located far from the village. Many families in the village don't own the homestead land. Laxmi & Sukhadev own less than an acre of farm land. The villagers grow crops on public land. Being the volunteer Seed Mother of Maleliguda Village, her main source of income are from livestock rearing, agriculture/ horticulture crops with collection and sale of NTFPs (non-timber forest products). She do have a small backyard farm with all-season vegetables grown on all the available spaces including here fence and rooftop. Convinced with the idea of exploring the local seeds and crop combinations, she experiments with ideas to maximise her food production base. She produces Paddy, Millets, Pulses, oilseeds, tubers greens, vegetable and seasonally collects forest Products for food and income for her family. Her husband also supported her on her natural farming initiatives. Laxmi has been the trainer on diverse natural farming practices like agniastra, brahmastra, nimastra, jivamrit, beejamarit, Handi-khata, cow urine spray, etc. She prepares these with her peers in her Producers Group and regularly uses them in her fields for soil nutrition improvements and pest management as her peers do the same.

With the support of ORRISSA she participated in various kinds of capacity building trainings on improvement methods of sustainable farming practices, NPM (Agneyastra, Brahmastra, Nimastra, Handikhata, and Bijamruta, etc.). Farm equipment used for cluster hiring center (CHC) as drudgery reduction, Pure- line selection and seed preservation etc. She also used Vermi Compost, Compost Pit to prepare her own livestock manure to use in my crop fields to decrease her cost of cultivation. Now her gharabari vegetables have diverse crops like Jhudunga, Brinjal, jhata, tomato, lady finger, redish and green leaf (Benda saga). She receives constant moral support from the family in her agriculture and livestock farming initiatives.

She also helps farmers to increase the soil fertility based on natural resource management in-situ principles. Laxmi leads her fellow farmers to follow pure-line selection of breeding process, mixed cropping practices, line transplanting etc. Over the last few years most of the marginal farmers in her village growing vegetables in their backyard 'gharabari', for their own consumption. Families buy only select food from the weekly markets and sale their surplus food. She also teaches natural farming to women farmers and also gives the training of this farming to the farmers of different panchayats of her Block. Farmers from others Districts come to visit her fields. Laxmi Khilla, for her pioneering efforts has been nominated to speak at the Women-Led Climate Resilient Initiatives, South Asia Regional Hub on 22nd September, 2022. She was the only one women farmer from Odisha on the prestigious Speakers Panel.

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