Vasantha Kumari comes from a humble farmer's family in Karnataka, southern India. When most rural youth left farming to migrate to India’s cities, she stayed put, and dedicated her life to farming, education, and training for rural communities.
At the age of 20, Vasantha started working at the community level with farmers groups on cotton farming through a rural NGO called ICRA. During a time when Bt cotton was responsible for farmer suicides due to the high cost of seeds, she was teaching organic cotton farming which requires no outside inputs, chemicals and is ultimately less costly for farmers. She was also creating community seed banks.
Since then, she has worked with a number of other community-based organizations, promoting agroecology among rural communities. She now works with Amrita Bhoomi. At first, she joined as a youth intern and spent many months learning from expert farmers themselves. Today, she is one of the coordinators of the seed program at the Bhoomi Center. She manages the seed bank and has conserved and collected about 200 seed varieties. Vasantha also oversees the youth interns and training programs to help women identify traditional herbs and plants.
This scholarship will help Vasantha to further her skills in seed conservation over the course of one year. It will also support the launch Amrita Bhoomi's seed distribution program, which will consist of a network of both men and women farmers who will save seeds and then collectively distribute them among farmers in India.