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Struggling Farmers in India Find Promise for the Future in Ancient Seeds

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  • Struggling Farmers in India Find Promise for the Future in Ancient Seeds

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/world...ood_06-13.html
    REPORT AIR DATE: June 13, 2013
    Struggling Farmers in India Find Promise for the Future in Ancient Seeds

    SAM EATON: On May 25, 2009, Cyclone Aila slammed into the Ganges River delta on the coast of Bangladesh and India. Hundreds of thousands fled as the storm surge tore through earthen embankments and flooded rice fields with a wall of seawater.

    I traveled to Eastern India with ecologist Asish Ghosh to see how the more than four million people living in this vast river delta are adapting to the salty soils the storm left behind. It's been four years since the cyclone hit. And farmer Raj Krishna Das says growing enough food is still a struggle.
    [snip]
    The only thing that will grow in Das' field today is a salt-tolerant rice variety developed more than a century ago by small-scale farmers just like him.

    ASISH GHOSH: He thinks it is one of the biggest resources that he has got. Now it is more precious than gold to him.

    SAM EATON: Ghosh's Center for Environmental Development and other nonprofits are trying to reintroduce these traditional seeds, which became rare after farmers began adopting modern high-yielding varieties in the 1960s, so-called green revolution varieties that could double or even triple their rice harvest given the right conditions and chemical inputs.

    But these same seeds were the first to fail after Cyclone Aila doused the soil with saltwater...
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