Dr Debal Deb is a pioneering ecologist committed to working with traditional farmers in eastern India to conserve indigenous seed diversity. Over almost two decades, Debal has managed to save 920 varieties of rice, all of which he stores in community based seed banks in West Bengal and Odisha for farmers. This film follows the construction of a new seed bank premises in Odisha, a venture that provides a potent symbol of Debal’s values.
In Debal’s work there is no sense of the superiority of either science or traditional knowledge – the two are seen as mutually beneficial, a complementary pairing. Debal works with farmers as fellow scientists in the laboratory that is their fields; Truly recognising the depth of their knowledge, and that solutions to hunger must benefit the small producer who is at highest risk. This respect and concern is key to the collective successes Debal has helped realise.
The Farmer, the Scientist and the Architect reveals Debal’s commitment to this collaborative method through sharing the story of the construction of a new local seed bank. Made using local stone, mud, sand, adobe bricks and local labour, this building is aesthetically delightful and, most importantly, 100% sustainable and 100% local. Debal has been working on this feat of truly ecological architecture with French architect Laurent Fournier. Together they are building this vital community resource, brick-by-handcrafted-brick, to convey to the community (and outsiders as well) that sustainability involves not only ecological agriculture but also ecological architecture, biodiversity, and an environmentally concerned lifestyle. Fittingly, upon completion the seed bank will be bequeathed to the people who need it.