Transforming Agriculture, Perennially


Piyush Labhsetwar

Research Technician, Perennial Wheat

Piyush was raised in Indore, India. He moved to Salina after living in Chennai, India earning his Bachelors and Masters in Biotechnology and then in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, while getting his PhD in Biophysics. His experiences in wet lab from his studies in biotechnology and with computational modeling from his graduate studies have been instrumental to his work at The Land. He came to TLI to work “in a well-rounded research program which brings in natural sciences as well as humanities to connect back to perennial polycultures.” He is inspired by learning about the intricacy and resiliency of plants (specifically wheat, in his position), and how they have been adapted to environments around the world to feed people.


What TLI perennial crop do you look forward to eating most, and how would you prepare it?
I want to try making bhakri: Indian flat bread made of wheat and sorghum flour. Being at TLI, I hope to get my hands on flour from perennial versions of both cereals. I love sorghum syrup too and want to give it a try using the perennial grain.

What would people never guess that you do as part of your role at TLI?
Rescue embryos (of wheat)

What’s one aspect of your life history that most people don’t know or wouldn’t expect?
During my childhood summer vacations, we would buy a quintal of wheat for our family, for the whole year, and clean it of chaff and stones using a sieve. After many years and halfway across the world, I found myself doing the same thing at TLI. Life has come full circle.

What else are you passionate about (outside of work)?
Social justice and people’s power to envision and attain it.

What’s your motto / favorite quote?
Bhaskar Save, acclaimed as the “Gandhi of natural farming,” talks about the abundance in perennial polycultures using this quote from the ages:

“Om Purnamadaha
Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamewa Vashishyate”

This creation is whole and complete.
From the whole emerge creations, each whole and complete.
Take the whole from the whole respectfully, as many times as you need;
the whole yet remains, undiminished, complete.

Support the work of Piyush and others at The Land Institute with a donation.


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