B.K. Deva Rao has dedicated five acres of his agricultural land in the serene Mittabagilu village of coastal Karnataka to just one purpose — preserving different varieties of paddy.
The varieties he preserves have grown over a period of three-and-a-half decades to 154. In his village, about 16 km from Ujire in Dakshina Kannada, Mr. Deva Rao is among a few in the country to take up conservation on such a large scale.
A septuagenarian, he is proud that he grows paddy on 42 small plots without using any chemical manure and sprays. Among his collections are traditional and hybrid varieties. “I grow paddy and conserve them for my satisfaction. The government support for farming is certainly not enough,” says Mr. Deva Rao.
Mr. Deva Rao cultivates paddy in two seasons. About 125-130 varieties are cultivated in the first season of May-June and the rest — 25-30 varieties — are sown in the second season of October. This way, all varieties are saved every year. His son, B.K. Parameshwar Rao, an electrical engineer who quit BHEL, Bengaluru, is also a farmer.