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Radha Mohan, a former Odisha information commissioner and retired professor of economics who had turned a barren patch of land into lush forest and popularised organic farming, passed away at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar late Thursday night. He was 78.
Radha Mohan, who retired as a professor of economics, was suffering from bronchial asthma along with other co-morbidities, and was admitted to hospital when his health deteriorated.
Condoling his death, PM Narendra Modi tweeted: “Prof Radha Mohan ji was deeply passionate about agriculture, especially adopting sustainable and organic practices. He was also respected for his knowledge on subjects relating to the economy and ecology. Saddened by his demise. Condolences to his family and admirers.”
Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal also condoled his death. ‘He will always be remembered for his unique organic farming techniques,” said Lal.
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Last year, Radha Mohan and his conservationist daughter Sabarmatee were awarded Padma Shri in the field of agriculture for their sterling work in organic farming. Three decades ago, the father-daughter duo started Sambhav, a resource centre for farmers where many vanishing food crops such as clove bean, jack bean, black rice and sword bean were grown through organic means.
They bought an acre of degraded land in Nayagarh district and started planting trees on it. Over the next few decades, that one-acre land transformed into 890 acres of forestation with three rainwater harvesting ponds and 500 varieties of rice. The forest is also home to nearly 1,000 species of plants including trees such as mango, lichi, jackfruit, chiku, sapeta and several timber varieties.
Through Sambhav, they implemented all techniques of organic farming and used cattle manure, bio-gas slurry, used all agro-waste and mulching. They also trained local farmers on sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation. They also started ‘Adopt a seed’ programme in which interested farmers were given climate resilient indigenous seeds and asked to take oath to preserve them.
He was appointed as State Information Commissioner in 2011. Odisha government also awarded him with Utkal Seva Samman for his outstanding social service. Similarly, UNEP had conferred ‘The Global Roll of Honour’ for his distinguished work for environment.