Conservation of Traditional Varieties by the Pithorabad Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC), Madhya Pradesh


The Pithorabad village in Satna district in the central Indian State of Madhya Pradesh, represents the Deccan peninsular biogeographic region. It is spread across 2000 hectares, with approximately 893 households.[1] Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the community and it depends on the surrounding forests for NTFP and fuel wood requirements. Since the past few decades however, the local forests and its biodiversity had been diminishing, mainly due to unsustainable extraction of its bio-resources for commercial purposes. Moreover, the change in cropping pattern with increase in cultivation of high yielding crop varieties, resulted in loss of the traditional varieties along with the associated traditional knowledge.

Conservation Initiatives and Impacts

Babulal Dahiya, a farmer in Pithorabad village, concerned by the eroding traditional crop varieties, started collecting and cultivating these crops in his agricultural land in 2005[2]. He would conserve the seeds and distribute them to other farmers in his village while describing the benefits of traditional crops over the hybrid varieties. Traditional varieties, according to him, have been seasoned with the climate of the region. They require fewer inputs and can withstand the effects of climate change[3]. Meanwhile, the Pithorabad Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC), was constituted in 2011, as per section 41 of the Biodiversity Act (BDA) 2002, under chairmanship of Babulal Dahiya. Comprising 7 members[4], the BMC made focused and sustained efforts towards the conservation and sustainable utilization of biological resources. The Committee also has six special invitees from the Forest, Agriculture, Veterinary, Health, Fisheries and School Education Departments. They participate in the meetings of the BMC and give technical inputs on specific issues.[5] With support from the State Biodiversity Board (SBB) and local NGO, Sarjana Samajik Sanskratik Evam Sahityak Manch, the BMC has documented the local flora and fauna along with the associated traditional knowledge in the People’s Biodiversity Register, as a measure of protection against misappropriation and in line with the mandates of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. It has conducted various awareness campaigns amongst the community regarding the medicinal properties, resilience and adaptability of the traditional varieties of flora and encouraged its propagation. The BMC has conserved around 125 traditional varieties of food grains, while providing for in-situ conservation of 110 varieties of paddy. It has initiated the process of registering 86 such varieties, under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority. Additionally, 30 traditional varieties of vegetables along with 150 native species of medicinal plants and tubers are also being conserved by the BMC. These traditional varieties are being cultivated by farmers in their fields across approximately12 hectares. The BMC has established a community seed bank to preserve 200 traditional varieties of crops, vegetables and tubers. Participation of women is encouraged and Self-Help Groups are proposed to be involved in value addition and marketing of select varieties of food grains. The BMC has established market linkages for the sale of organic wheat in Chennai and Bengaluru, traditional paddy varieties – Shyamjeer, Kargi and Sariyya (red paddy varieties), in Delhi and traditional varieties like Kodo, Kutki and Sawa at the local Bhopal Haat. The BMC has implemented regulations on sustainable harvesting from the nearby forests and also carries out regular patrolling to ensure compliance. A project for briquetting of Lantana camara, for use as bio-fuel has been sanctioned by the SBB to an NGO, the CovenantCentre for Development (CCD). Under the project, a biomass briquetting unit (char kiln) will be set up in the village to reduce dependence on fuel wood. Some paddy varieties and medicinal plants may be included in Access and Benefit Sharing agreements. The Panchayat has contributed to conservation by developing a biodiversity garden on community land near a temple. The name Dev Bhoomi (God’s land) endows it with religious as well as traditional significance.

The Pithorabad BMC won the India Biodiversity Award under the category ‘Best Biodiversity Management Committee’ in 2018.
Contact - Babulal Dahiya Tel. +91 9981162564 Email: