This non-profit organisation promotes sustainable organic farming and provides legal and emotional support for uplifting women.
Sambhav, a non-profit organisation, tackles gender and environmental issues, notably in terms of women empowerment, organic farming, and biodiversity conservation. Among their most remarkable work is recovering a dense forest in Odisha’s Nayagarh. The founders, a father–daughter duo that managed to turn a written-off, barren wasteland into a prolific zone for trees and crops, are now being conferred with the Padma Shri for their work in the field of agriculture.
The 77-year-old Radhamohan, a retired state information commissioner, is dedicated towards nurturing and guiding social change. His daughter, Sabarmatee, quit her job in 1993 as a project officer at Oxfam to dedicate her time to their organisation.
The organisation registered in 1989. It was a time of mistrust for traditional agricultural practices. Even policymakers and academics were doubtful of traditional practices being able to produce enough food to satisfy the needs of a growing population. This motivated Radhamohan to give up a successful career and set out to create a resource centre for organic farming. It was this objective of proving that traditional agriculture can be taken up in inhospitable conditions that led to them choosing this place.
The unpopularity of organic farming meant that Sambhav had to rely on trial and error. Over time, its efforts succeeded, and after nearly 3 decades, the 1 acre it had has expanded to 90 acres. It achieved this using techniques such as mulching and harvesting water in ponds that conserve soil and water.
Sambhav has also built a seed bank consisting of more than 700 indigenous varieties of seeds. Under its initiative ‘Adopt a Seed’, it gives region-specific varieties to farmers for free in exchange for farmers popularising them. Some of these seeds are well suited to waterlogged areas, while the others are suited to arid environments. It also has varieties that are highly nutritious.
Additionally, the organization is promoting food security through crop diversification. In case of extreme weather events or pest attacks, in multicropping, the more resilient varieties will survive in particular circumstances and the farmers will not be at complete loss. Their efforts have built up an apt repository of seeds to face up the effects of climate change.
Apart from acting as a resource centre for sustainable agriculture and its efforts to bring focus on organic produce, Sambhav also provides legal and emotional support for uplifting women. In 2018, Sabarmatee was awarded the Nari Shakti Award by Ram Nath Kovind, the president of India.
Article by Vihita Nevatia and Shruti, Team ulaunch.