GFAR blog

YAP Proposal #385: Traditional ecological knowledge (Seema Sharma, India)


A warm ‘namaste’ from a woman scientist from India. I am Dr. Seema B. Sharma, 38 years young!!

With a Masters and Doctorate in Environmental Science and also the qualifying degree (UGC-NET) for a noble profession of a lecturership in any of the esteemed colleges of the country, I could have had a well settled job in my hands.  But there was this urge that drove me to make the fields my page and shovel my pen!

So what is the challenge?

The journey began from the semi-arid zone of western India, Kachchh, which is the second largest district of Asia. Tectonically it is a very active zone and bestowed with enormous geological wealth. The zone is characterised by a history of devastating earthquakes, harsh climatic conditions and erratic rainfall pattern.

Injudicious and  indiscriminate use of chemicals in agriculture has already shown its ugly face not only here in this unique ecological terrain of western India, but also in other parts of the country and other developing countries as well , where feeding the  growing population with limited resources at discretion is the greatest challenge.

Where do we stand today?

As far as the Indian scenario is concerned, the so called ‘Green revolution’ of the mid-sixties era bought a boom in agri-production with the use of hybrid seed varieties, chemical based fertilisers and pesticides. But what it also bought in its wake over the passing decades was the degraded land quality and deterioration in quality of the produce.

The recent episodes of farmer’s suicide in various parts of my country and chemical infested food are a testimony of the fact that this is not what we wanted or want for our future generations to come.

What is my little contribution?

We as global citizens have fortunately inherited enormous ‘Traditional Ecological Knowledge’ (TEK), the indigenous knowledge that was built over centuries, passed on subtly from generation to generation and that was built on the principles of utmost care of our ‘Mother Nature’.

‘The Vedic Krishi System’ or the natural farming systems of ancient India needs a special mention here. In this system the soil ecosystems were managed in such a way that we gave back what we received from it.

So the journey started from here…

Keeping all these pros and cons in mind, this study began about six years back. With kind financial assistance from Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, under the Women Scientist Scheme (WOS-A), I was granted a fellowship that enabled me to kick-start my project from the grassroots level.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University kindly hosted my project. Additional lab facilities were set up from the funds from DST, where I could carry out my research.

Been there, done that

For three phases of a crop cycle spread across six cropping seasons we compared the two farming systems (one purely chemical based and the other TEK based) for the physical, chemical and microbiological components of the soil for four intensive years. The number of farms of the two types was chosen as such to be statistically significant for scientific presentation of the results.

For TEK based systems, natural concoctions like ‘Jivamrit’, seed treatments ‘Bijamrit’ were applied. Along with this, various traditional techniques were adopted that were locally feasible. Potent microbes were isolated, tested and deposited in repositories. Major and minor nutrients were evaluated in soil samples that were drawn using standard protocols.

What’s next

To conceptualise this study, which is very close to my heart, I have divided it into four phases with three key points for each phase: goals to be covered, finance required and stipulated time.

Phase 1: The scientific aspect

Mass multiplication techniques and consortia formulations of compatible microorganisms/ bioformulations will be examined. The microbial cultures from the bio-formulations that have already shown promising results in-vivo and in–vitro will be applied for the lab to land transfer protocol.

The cultures are already deposited in national repositories with respective accession numbers. An amount of US $1700 will be allocated for this important aspect of the project and initially this will take two and half months, but once the technology hits the floor it will be done at the site itself, saving time and cost.

Phase 2: The social Aspect

Identification of the target farmers for technology transfer through various tools such as focus group discussions (FGD’s) and Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) will be performed. This phase will happen concurrently with the lab work and will cover the major timeline of the project. USD $2000 would be needed for this.

Phase 3: Combining the scientific and social aspects

Assessment, refinement and demonstration of technology/products through participatory approach and practical trainings and demonstrations of the practises adopted in TEK based systems will be performed. Model farms developed at the field agency using this indigenous traditional wisdom and PGPR intervention from laboratories could highlight the beneficial aspects and train/motivate the farming community towards a sustainable agri-ecosystem.

Once the farmers have hands-on training and are ready with their first yield, a second phase on similar lines would be initiated that needs an amount of USD $1300.

Phase 4: final evaluation and assessment.

This state-of-the-art technology needs to be rendered useful to the ultimate beneficiaries, i.e. the farming community from start-up to the final production level. The yield analysis and soil quality testing would be the tangible benefits observed and the smiles on the faces of the farmers an intangible yet important milestone.

Training modules and orientation programmes would go a long way in imparting knowledge to the present generation but also create a knowledge base for future generations as well. With hands on training at every little step and access to facilitators at their discretion, the confidence of these farmers would be boosted.

A local technology already known and used in one context can be transferred for use in another in where it was previously unknown. What is now known to the world is that this area is known for its export of organically grown ‘Kesar Keri’ (local mango delicacy), and also dates, to various countries including Europe.

These achievements are all thanks to the progressive farming communities that are taking up more and more innovative yet sustainable indigenous strategies. Our project would be a drop in the ocean and serve the cause in moving from a Green Revolution to an ‘Evergreen Revolution’.


Blogpost and picture submitted by Seema Sharma (India) – seemabhargavsharma[at]

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

This post is published as proposal #385 of “YAP” – our “Youth Agripreneur Project”.

The first selection of the winners will be based on the number of comments, likes and views each proposal gets.

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“YAP” is part of the #GCARD3 process, the third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development.

139 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #385: Traditional ecological knowledge (Seema Sharma, India)”

  1. Thanks seema for sharing such a vivid knowledge . Many people must have benefitted from this blog !

  2. Congratulations!!! Indepth research. Am sure this proposal would benifit and serve the cause in moving from Green Revolution to Evergreen Revolution!

  3. Thanks for working for the benefit of the entire society. These kind of projects will help us eat more pure and less chemically treated rather chemical less produce 😀👏👏👏

  4. This is incredible work! Can’t say enough that today’s need is not green but EVERGREEN REVILUTION. Seema your work is inspiring and should be brought to life at speed! In this month of international women’s day, encouraging to see work from Indian woman scientist!

  5. Seema…reading this blog post was an emotional experience at multiple levels. Firstly it reminded me of your niceness and innate humanity which seems to be shinning through this initiative. Secondly I feel so sad about the continued incidences of farmers’ suicides in our country and if your project can help make a positive impact over there for our farmers it would be a great start. I wish you all the success and will certainly do my bit to spread word about this noble cause.

    Best wishes
    Shilpa Vijay

  6. “As we sow, so shall we reap”…literally and figuratively. Thats why we need to go” back to our roots”…to analyse what we have lost in our selfish and blind need to sustain ourselves, to unlearn the “modern & scientific” ways and embrace the much forgotton and much needed ways of old…so that we can give back what we have taken away from mother earth so shortsightedly. Dr. Seema…you bring fresh green hope of an “EVERGREEN REVOLUTION” and your vision speaks of courage, compassion and care…for us and mother earth. I hope you find success and may your endeavour charge many others with your energy and enthusiasm. May your labour of love bring fruits for our coming generations. Wish you lots of luck. Keep up the good work.

  7. What an inspiring project ! Really need young Agripreneurs like you who are passionate about a cause and pursue it relentlessly. We are fortunate to have, you, Dr Seema Sharma in this field to proactively and systematically do something about the growing concerns regarding chemicals and pesticides use. Making the traditional techniques more effective and applying them to see the if they are sustainable is the way to move forward .. Not a drop in the ocean but a burning need!
    I hope you are able to move forward and do systematic research on this . I support Seema in this endeavour !

    1. Yes chhavi…I have been working on it since few years and after lab work and in-vitro and in-vivo trials it is high time the extension work happens.

  8. Great
    work …its the requirement of today …ur work is going to help our farmers who r the backbone of our society

  9. What a wonderful initiative ! Simply wow ! Way to go Seema ! Do well and keep up the spirit !

  10. Wow great work Seema this the area where our focus should be ….proud of u ..ur research will help our farmers and give them a direction

  11. This is the greatest proposal I have read in a long time. I hope you find many successes with this endeavor.

  12. Seema your doing great. Wish you great success with this project. It will surely benefit many. 👏🏻👏🏻

  13. It’s a great work
    You have worked very hard , some times round the clock
    Well done
    Keep it up👍🏿

  14. Innovation in agriculture is the need of the hour.Your research can actually pave the way for better cultivation techniques without tempering with the ecological balance

  15. Great going Seema!Ur efforts are remarkable.May the Almighty bless u and may u succeed in ur endeavour.

  16. Nice n informative. Good to see another woman scientist. Thanks to govt 4 starting the schemes to help such projects. Best of luck

  17. Great work Dr Seema, it’s really highly appreciable to work towards this neglected but most needed Agri technology development, not only for benefits of better farm income generation but also for procurement of safe and healthy food. This will also help in maintaining good Agri production capacity of soil and protect Agri farms from the devastating effects of chemicals and pesticides.
    Great courageous work to begin, still long way to go, needs huge number of such persons for real benefits transfer on farm activities.

    Congrats Dr Seema, superb work done. God bless you and guide you on path for achievement of real Goal.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. your blessings mean a lot to me. The way is long …the goal is there and my master is strong…very strong!!!

  18. Dear Dr.Seema,
    Great! And as real facing situation in our thematic areas in Kachchh, you are very right way raised IEK benefits for future world! We also interacted many stakeholders and they all are also agreed on changes cropping patterns and using more chemicals based farming will not going to sustain our food security problems alone..but, simultaneously we have to also works on revitalization of our traditional practices for ourselves as well as for nature where other biodiversity live and maintain our all ecological balances…
    Best wishes for your proposed research.

    1. Dear Dr Pankaj thanks for the kind words. our scenario in Kachchh is no different from other semi arid zones. the system is an integrated approach wherein we incorporate all good things …that are sustainable.

  19. Sounds quite inspiring and innovative..would it be possible that in future people would get rid of transgenic and chemically breeded crops and grains out of their lives?

    1. Arjav thank you for your kind words….that is the mission….we are thirsty amidst water.. we have to bring back the farmers to our ancient yet very innovative ways. The seed treatment with Bijamrit is one such example plus preserving native seeds…we are on our way

    1. this seed treatment has been a very traditional practie but many farmers all over the world. In my experiments I had used cow urine/dung with some carrier material for seed treatment prior to sowing

  20. Dr Seema, I would also like to know how you do the seed treatment- bijamrit as u said. What procedure or technique does it involve?

    1. Dear Dr Sukhdeep thanks for your interest. Seed treatment is something our ancestors always did. its like we are providing the vigour before sowing so as it can withstand adversities. the seed is treated with organic materials like cow urine etc and a carrier like lime. spraying on the seeds. drying it in shade and then final sowing. we can do this even at our homes.

  21. Hi Seema, or I should be more proud to call you Dr. Seema. Never knew there lies a agriprenure behind a gentle girl, a home maker and a loving caring mom. It’s a moment of pride and joy to know what you are doing.
    Keep this up, we need young thinking like you, God Bless.

    1. No words can show my gratitude for these appreciating words. When it comes from family it is all the more special because they have seen all other roles as well besides an academician. Your blessings have and will help me excel!!!

  22. Great content and amazing effort Seema! The world needs to revive ” traditionally known techniques” and rekindle the confidence in using them. Scientists like you are needed to bring forth the wisdom from he past coupled with careful statistical analysis and then the ” EVERGREEN ” revolution would not be far! Thanks for sharing this!

  23. Hi Seema
    1 How r u going to educate the farmers?
    2.How they will create a balance between the traditional and modern means of farming?
    3.From where they can get financial help to start with?
    4what r the steps to be followed?
    5is soil quality is going to improve in what span of time?
    6 How much we r dependent on nature?

  24. Very informative and innovative 😉 something which really needs to be taken care of for the betterment of our future and for welfare of farmers!! Awesome work…woman power 💪🏻keep up the good work

  25. We all are now realizing the wisdom of our ancestors in many fields – Mathematics ( vedic mathematics), sports and running ( barefeet running that I myself practice ), diet ( paleo ). It is a great effort on you part to apply the knowledge and wisdom of our ancestors in to the field of agriculture as well. Please keep up the good work.

  26. Wonderful work with a noble mission! Thank you for sharing and inspiring! Wishing you the best!!

  27. Proud to address my sister as Dr.Seema,Excellent job…great going.It’s definitely blessings of our fairy Angel Mom and supportive father as well caring husband, sweet daughter and in-laws.May God bless you in all your endeavours.

  28. Really proud to call my loving daughter Dr.Seema Sharma…’s a great moment for our family. ….You really did us proud.May God bless you and gives success in all your projects.

  29. Seema what do think about the feasibility and environmental conditions of India about the success of this project?

  30. This blog was so informative and enlightening . In our day today lives we forget that it is Mother Earth that is our greatest asset and that it is our responsibility to nurture it just like we nurture ourselves and our kids . We will only reap what we sow , so many best wishes to you Dr Seema for taking up this cause and setting an example for all of us .This is awesome work that you are doing and I wish you the very best

    1. Thanks Radhika… The ancient Vedas of india have it all… World over the indigenous knowledge is immense we just need a revival

  31. Very proud of your work Dr.Seema. wish you great success and look forward to healthy options for our soil..

  32. Dear Dr Seema,
    Is the “lab to field” project going to be cost effective( in terms of input and crop yield), sustainable and much less labour intensive than the current modern practices followed ?Do you incorporate water harvesting too in your TEK, to decrease dependance on monsoons???

    1. Dear Dr Roopika as part of my doctoral research the economics of yield quantum was not explored statistically. BUT the aesthetic values and the yield reports from the model farms stands a proof to the fact that TEK based systems besides being environmentally sustainable are also economically relevant. The farmers from here exporting their produce to European markets support the fact. yes water holding capacity which shows soil resilience to drought conditions was takeninto account.

  33. Thanks for ur reply Dr. Seema. Would also like to know how you plan to bring this project onto the real grassroots. How will the farmers be educated about using our traditional knowledge rather than use the pesticide for quick gain and loss later. A very well thought project. Something we really need to implement in our country.

  34. Dear Dr Sukhdeep..any agriculture related research and the final extension work is a very crucial process that involves a lot of man power and planning. As far as my project is concerned the laboratory part was covered as my women scientist project and as it was all soil sample analysis from the fields of selected farmers and NOT experimental stations so I would say that extension work had already been framed. It is just that now we need to reach more such farmers for a transition study from their chemical ridden systems to more holistic approaches.

  35. Wow nice blog n such a nice information ..keep it up ..dear Congratulations and best wishes

  36. Really inspiring and impressive Dr. Seema. It is high time we needed second green revolution and it is possible only through people like you. Your bold attempt to revitalize our agri system deserves support from everyone who wants to improve our farmers lot. Our heartfelt wish and desire to every success in your venture
    G A Thivakaran

  37. Dear Dr. Seema !
    Thanks for sharing this information. Inspiring and informative indeed. I wish you all the best, and great success in all your efforts towards this amazing cause.

  38. Thanks for your reply Dr Seema. I hope your courageous efforts meet success and you fulfill your dream of bringing back the smiles on the face of the farmers.
    Congratulations and good luck.

  39. What a thoughtful and noble mission….It is definitely the need of the hour! Well done Seema di! So proud of you.

  40. Thanks Dr. Seema for sharing this info

    Feeling proud to see your research work

    Kee shining keep growing 😊

    Awesome Seema Bhabhi 👍🏻😊

  41. Great job as u r taking responsibilities of such project n pleasure to get knowledge about “root” called farmers of our society. its regard all abou
    t health n a good health is more prior wealth of life. A very good wishes to you for such wonderful work or as god always being with good thoughts.

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