At just 13 years old, Harshita Priyadarshani Mohanty, a Class VII prodigy hailing from Jeypore in Koraput district, has embarked on a mission that goes beyond her age and sets an inspiring example for the world. With a strong determination to safeguard the rich diversity of finger millets and rice indigenous to her region, this young enthusiast has already gathered an impressive collection of 80 varieties of millets and 150 distinct types of paddy.
Her journey commenced eight months back, initially a mere hobby nurtured by the thrill of collecting coins and stamps. However, it was the inspiring tale of Kamala Pujari, renowned for her relentless pursuit of preserving indigenous seeds, that acted as a catalyst for Harshita’s shift towards safeguarding local crop diversity. “Eight years back, I started collecting millet seeds. To date, I’ve gathered 80 types of finger millets, including sorghum, little, foxtail, and pearl, among others. Additionally, my collection boasts 150 varieties of paddy,” Harshita shared, her eyes gleaming with passion.
Every Sunday, accompanied by her father Harekrushana Mohanty, Harshita travels through the villages of Koraput, Malkangiri, and Nabarangpur, engaging with local farmers to understand the intricacies and significance of the region’s native crop varieties. This immersive approach not only amplifies her understanding of the crops but also enables her to encourage and motivate farmers to continue cultivating these valuable local resources.
Undeterred by her young age, Harshita envisions a future as a prominent crop scientist, eager to delve deeper into the realm of indigenous crop research and collection. “I aspire to conduct extensive research on indigenous crop varieties and expand my collection of seeds,” she emphasized, exuding unwavering determination.
Beyond her role as a collector, Harshita actively contributes to the preservation efforts by distributing 1-gram portions of her collected seeds to local farmers, urging them to perpetuate the cultivation of these invaluable local crop varieties. “My father is my main pillar of support, continuously encouraging me to pursue this cause,” she acknowledged, her gratitude palpable.
Harshita’s relentless dedication and remarkable achievements have garnered widespread recognition, leading to numerous exhibitions across the nation, where she proudly showcases her extensive collections, serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration for the preservation of indigenous crops.
“Witnessing Harshita’s determination and passion for preserving our agricultural legacy has been a source of immense pride for our family. Her dedication to this cause serves as an inspiration not just for our community but for the world at large. I am honored to support her every step of the way,” shared her father Harekrushna Mohanty with a sense of admiration and pride.
As the world grapples with the challenges posed by climate change and the subsequent loss of biodiversity, Harshita Priyadarshani Mohanty’s unwavering efforts stand as proof of the power of determination and the undying spirit of youth in protecting our precious agricultural heritage.