Bangalore: Dr Prabhakar Rao moved to Dubai after acquiring a degree in architecture. Along with being a student of architecture, he also did PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics. He had been enthusiastic about gardening all his life and wanted to become an agricultural scientist. 

Dr Rao grew up in a time, when new farming methods, the use of hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, simpler irrigation methods were being introduced in India. He observed that the quality of the vegetables was slowly decreasing which was almost negligible to notice at that time. Preference was given to the sale of popular vegetables while other vegetable started disappearing from the markets. 

His job in Dubai did not give him enough satisfaction as he was more passionate about bringing back and preserving the endangered plant species. 

Plenty of varieties of vegetables have disappeared

During hie research, Dr Rao studied that indigenous seeds are becoming extinct from the world. Humans are more focused on growing hybrid seeds rather than preserving the seeds in their original form. It is nearly impossible to find seeds in their original form because of which many varieties of vegetables have ceased to exist. 

Dr Rao asserts that it is a challenge to revive the seeds of these vegetables which are no longer found anywhere. But still, he is continuing with his research to find a way to make it happen. 

500 varieties of vegetables

After leaving his job in Dubai, Dr Rao returned to India in the year 2011 with a hope to preserve indigenous vegetable seeds. Along with his revolutionary work, he also handles various architectural projects in Delhi. 

Dr Rao started off with making Hariyali seeds for preserving the seeds of vegetables that were going extinct. So far, Dr Rao has been able to preserve 500 varieties of vegetable seeds, and this in itself is exemplary. 

Searching for the lost seeds

Dr Rao realized that the only way of finding seeds of these vegetables was to look for them in the areas that had not adopted the use of chemicalized farming methods. Initially, it was difficult to search for places like these, but he found his hope in tribal villages. 

In his research he found that there were still plenty of tribal areas that were using organic methods of farming. He visited these tribal areas and studied about their local plants and learned about their use of Vedic agriculture techniques. He was impressed to see them use these ancient methods to preserve their surroundings. Dr Rao was able to collect indigenous seeds from tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and some Northeast states. 

Dr Rao mentions that it is impossible to find these seeds in states like Punjab and Haryana due to heavy usage of chemical fertilizers.

In order to promote these methods, Dr Rao started to train farmers on a large scale to educate them about sustainable farming techniques. As of yet, he has connected with more than 22 lakh farmers across the country.

What is natural farming

Sustainable form of farming is referred to as natural farming. In these practices, farmers responsibly use natural fertilizers produced from cow dung, dried leaves, rotten vegetables in the growth of their crops. No artificial chemicals that may cause harm to the crops are used.