PC- Ommcomnews

At just 12 years old, Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty has embarked on a remarkable journey to conserve over 60 rare millet varieties. Inspired by Padma Shri awardee farmer Kamala Pujari, Harshita’s dedication to preserving indigenous seeds has garnered national attention, including a showcase to Hon’ble President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu.

Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty PC- msn.com

Seeds of Inspiration

Harshita’s project began in 2023 under the mentorship of Kamala Pujari, who provided her with four types of paddy seeds: Machhakanta, Umuriachudi, Asamchudi, and the GI-tagged Koraput Kalajeera. Pujari, recognizing the urgency of preserving native seeds, encouraged the youth to take up this crucial task. Harshita’s father, Harekrushna Mohanty, recounts their pivotal visit to Kamala Pujari on their way to enroll Harshita in Prakash Vidyalaya, which invigorated her mission.

Building a Seed Bank

Harshita’s seed bank now includes rare rice varieties such as Kalabati (black rice), Tulsi Bhog (high-fibre rice), Rogusai, Chhatianaki, and Haladichudi. She collects these seeds during harvest season and stores 100-250 grams of each type, distributing any surplus to farmers at no cost. In 2023, she distributed seeds to 20 farmers, and this year, she has already supported 50 farmers, fueling her dream of becoming an agronomist.

A Passion for Millets

Inspired by a district-level ecological diversity festival hosted by the non-profit “Ekata” in Koraput, Harshita expanded her efforts to include millets. Starting with varieties like Bhalu, Bhati, and Mami, her collection has grown to over 80 types, five of which were gifts from Ekata.

Recognized and Rewarded

Harshita’s dedication has not gone unnoticed. In January 2024, Paradeep Phophates and Siksha “O” Anusdhan University honored her with the title “Krushak Ratna.” Moreover, she triumphed in the virtual national competition “Idea Youngsters,” placing first in her age category among 10,000 participants. Organized by HDFC Bank and Red FM, the competition awarded her a cash prize of Rs 2.5 lakh in April 2024. During the event, Harshita impressed judges with her knowledge of organic farming and the importance of traditional seeds.

Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty’s efforts highlight the critical role of young innovators in preserving agricultural biodiversity. Her story is a testament to how inspiration, mentorship, and dedication can lead to impactful change, ensuring that valuable seed varieties are conserved for future generations.