When Navali Nayak sowed her millet in 2007, she did it in secret. She held the seeds in a fold of cloth at the waist of her saree and dropped them intermittently into the furrows her husband, Magan, was ploughing, just a few feet ahead of her. He believed she was planting only maize, as they had done for the past 15 years.
Her secret didnâ€™t last long; when it grew, the millet looked quite different from the rest of their crop. At first Magan was angry, and shouted a lot, but there wasnâ€™t much he could do.
Nobody could have foreseen the results of that millet harvest. Within a short time, word spread and 34-year-old Nayak was being hailed as a paragon among women agriculturalists in the region. Not only was her millet crop doing exceptionally well, she had grown two strains that were thought to be extinct. Now she is the keeper of a seed bank, with the revived millets â€“ Bavato and Bunty â€“ as its stars.