The Padma Shri is one of India’s highest civilian awards. It rewards distinguished contributions in different areas of public life, including the arts, education, sports and social service. The award is bestowed upon its recipients on Republic Day, 26th January, and this year, two great friends and advocates of SRI and organic agriculture have received the honour: Sabarmatee and her father, Professor Radhamohan.
Their award comes in recognition of their work in agriculture. In Nayagarh district of Orissa State, over more than three decades, they have developed a farm, an oasis of biodiversity and organic practices, called Sambhav. “Sambhav” means “it is possible” and their farm is so-called because it started out as a plot of barren land that locals claimed it would be impossible to revive. Radhamohan and his daughter determined to prove the naysayers wrong. And in the process, they have adopted the System of Rice Intensification and other agroecological practices and they have saved vanishing rice and bean varieties.
Professor Radhamohan explains the beginnings of Sambhav: