Preserving landracesDate: 15 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
Rahibai Popere has been honoured with Padma award for her role in saving hundreds of landraces (wild varieties of commonly grown crops).
Popere, popularly known as Seedmother, belongs to Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra state.
Landraces are naturally occurring variants of commonly cultivated crops. Unlike commercial crops, landraces occur without selective breeding.
Existing crops are developed through genetic engineering and selective breeding for allowing new traits to be expressed over a time.
Over a period of time, the natural varieties start declining as more and more farmers start adapting hybrid varieties.
Issue in hybrid crops
Natural crops have the ability to develop traits to tackle challenging situations such as pests and droughts. Due to selective breeding, plants have lost this natural ability.
These varieties have large untapped genetic pool that can withstand abiotic and biotic stresses. These traits can help in survival of plants.
With proper technique, landrace varieties can give higher yield with low input. They can better withstand droughts and floods.
Role in future
Landrace varieties hold key to climate-resilient agriculture; nutritional profiling too can hold the key to fighting malnutrition and anemia.
She has been involved in Kalsubai Parisar Biyane Sanvardhan Samajik Sanstha in Akole, which has been at the forefront of seed preservation effort.
It has been able to save 114 landraces of 40 crops including rice, little millets, finger millets, hyacinth beans and local vegetables.