Satna: A farmer’s dedication towards conserving over a hundred varieties of rice and promoting organic farming in his village in Madhya Pradesh’s Satna has got him praises from former cricketer VVS Laxman.

Babulal Dahiya, 76, a retired postmaster from Pithaurabad village in Satna has dedicated his life for the conservation of traditional seeds besides writing Bagheli poetry, the traditional literature of his native region.

Dahiya harvests 110 varieties of traditional rice crops on two acres of land without using any chemical fertilisers. Each variety has a unique taste, unlike the hybrid ones, former Indian cricketer VVS Laxman said in a tweet on Tuesday.

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The farmer is elated after getting acknowledged by the cricketing ace for his efforts towards organic farming. Dahiya claimed that he started with 110 varieties, but has now close to 200 verities of paddy in the seed bank, established in co-operation with Bio-Diversity Board of the state.

“In all, we have around 300 desi (traditional) seeds in the seed bank,” said Dahiya, who has been recognised as Beej Nayak in Madhya Pradesh. He has also helped in similar initiatives in other parts of the country.

The retired postmaster is known as an agri-innovator armed with traditional knowledge of seeds and agriculture techniques. In 2015, when his region suffered a dry spell, his rice varieties remained unaffected which impressed the other farmers.

The traditional seeds, Dahiya says, have the ability to adapt to local environment besides having the capability to fight off weeds and do not require pesticides as ants, spiders and insects do the needful.

Apart from paddy, he is also known in the region for his knowledge of farming of traditional grains like Jwar, Bajra and Kodo-Kutki (commonly known as thick grains).

Dahiya’s expertise in conserving traditional seeds goes back to his passion for Bagheli literature (a dialect spoken by natives in certain parts of MP). In fact, he began thehis initiative in 2005 after learning about it in in local folktales and poetry.

On the request of MP Adivasi Lok Kala Academy, Dahiya has also written five books as part of efforts to preserve Bagheli folk literature.