Meet Harshita, Odisha’s 12-Year-Old Seed Guardian Saving Rare Millets And Paddy Varieties

Her story inspires hope for a sustainable future!

by Mallika Khurana
Meet Harshita, Odisha’s 12-Year-Old Seed Guardian Saving Rare Millets And Paddy Varieties

In the heart of Odisha, where lush green landscapes embrace age-old traditions, there resides a young guardian of agricultural heritage, Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty. At just 12 years old, she embodies a spirit of preservation and a passion for nurturing the earth’s bounty. She is particularly focussed on the form of millets and paddy.

Sowing Seeds Of Change

Often overlooked in today’s modern diets, millets hold profound significance in nutrition and sustainability. They are resilient crops, capable of thriving in diverse climates and requiring minimal water and resources to grow. Beyond their hardiness, millets boast a nutritional profile that rivals even the most celebrated superfoods. 

However, despite their immense value, millets face the threat of extinction due to modern agricultural practices favouring monoculture and hybrid varieties. Enter Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty, a beacon of hope amidst this threat to biodiversity. With a zeal reminiscent of the Padma Shree Kamala Pujari, Harshita has taken it upon herself to safeguard the rich tapestry of indigenous seeds that have sustained her community for generations. 

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The Inspiring Journey Of Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty

Harshita’s journey began three years ago, sparked by the inspiring legacy of Kamala Pujari. Fueled by a desire to emulate her hero’s efforts in organic farming and seed preservation, Harshita embarked on a mission to collect, conserve, and propagate indigenous seeds.

Her efforts have borne fruit, quite literally, as she has amassed a staggering collection of over 150 rare varieties of paddy, 53 varieties of finger millets, and seven varieties of pearl millets. Recognizing the urgent need to disseminate her precious seeds and knowledge, she established a foodgrain and seed bank.

Her initiative has certainly not gone unnoticed. Admirers from far and wide, including government officials and dignitaries, have also flocked to witness her remarkable collection. 

Harshita’s dedication recently earned her a platform on the global stage, as she proudly represented her community at the Global Symposium on Farmers’ Rights, inaugurated by President Droupadi Murmu in New Delhi. In the presence of esteemed delegates from 125 countries, she eloquently spoke about her collection and the importance of organic farming, captivating hearts and minds with her wisdom beyond her years.

But perhaps the most inspiring aspect of Harshita’s journey lies in her altruism. Recognizing that true change begins at the grassroots level, she has also established the ‘Harshita Priyadarshini Science Club’. It is a beacon of empowerment for her peers and local farmers alike. 

Harshita Priyadarshini Mohanty stands as a testament to the power of one individual to ignite change.

Cover Image Courtesy: International Year of Millets 2023/X