From Barren To Bountiful, This Father-Daughter Duo In Odisha Transformed Wasteland Into A Thriving Organic Farm

Explore their journey from impossibility to abundance, and be inspired.

by Mallika Khurana
From Barren To Bountiful, This Father-Daughter Duo In Odisha Transformed Wasteland Into A Thriving Organic Farm

In the heart of Nayagarh district, Odisha, a father-daughter duo, Radha Mohan and Sabarmatee, embarked on an extraordinary journey that transformed a barren wasteland into a thriving oasis of organic farming. Their dedication and innovative approach not only garnered them prestigious awards but also left an indelible mark on sustainable agriculture in India.

Sambhav, The Organic Revolution Led By Odisha’s Unsung Heroes


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In the late 1980s, Radha Mohan, a retired Economics professor, and his daughter Sabarmatee, then working at Oxfam, shared a vision of rejuvenating degraded land through organic farming. Despite scepticism from others, they purchased a piece of land in Nayagarh district, Odisha, known for its infertility. Undeterred, they embraced the challenge and christened their journey ‘Sambhav,’ symbolising the transformation from the impossible to the possible.

What began as one acre of desolation blossomed into a 90-acre food forest, teeming with over 1,000 plant species. Through meticulous soil and water conservation methods, Radha Mohan and Sabarmatee turned adversity into abundance. Their forest not only sustains diverse flora but also supports three rainwater harvesting ponds.

Radha Mohan and Sabarmatee didn’t confine their success to their land. They founded Sambhav, a nonprofit volunteer agency and a beacon of knowledge for farmers nationwide. As a resource centre for organic farming, Sambhav offers training and seed exchanges, empowering communities to embrace sustainable practices. 

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Awards and Recognition That Carved Their Future

Their relentless pursuit of sustainability earned them accolades, including the Nari Shakti Puraskar in 2018 and the esteemed Padma Shri in 2020. Minister Piyush Goyal hailed them as “unsung heroes,” acknowledging their pivotal role in promoting conservation and organic farming. Furthermore, Sabarmatee’s continued dedication garnered her additional honours, such as the Impact Leader of the Year Award in 2022 and the Pratibha Samman in 2023.

Though Radha Mohan passed away in 2021, his legacy lives on through Sabarmatee’s unwavering commitment to Sambhav’s mission. Today, Sambhav stands as a testament to their vision, fostering ecologically sustainable agriculture and empowering communities to thrive in harmony with nature. 

Through their remarkable journey, they certainly inspire us to reimagine our relationship with the land and pave the way for a greener, more sustainable future.

Cover Image Courtesy: Sambhav Orissa/Facebook

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