Farm and Food Science

Promoting traditional seeds

Nel Jayaraman displaying a traditional seed variety. Photo: D.Gopalakrishnan   | Photo Credit: D_GOPALAKRISHNAN

Last week, we saw how individuals across the country have been doing sterling work in preserving many of the rice varieties that are native to our country. Jayaraman is one of them.

Mr. Jayaraman, who dropped out of school when he was in Class VIII, is now an organic farming crusader. A native of Adirangam village in Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, Jayaraman has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of preserving native paddy seeds.

Seeing the enthusiastic work of Jayaraman, a NRI Narasimman, (also a native of Adhirangam) donated nine acres of his land for crop cultivation and a building to organise training programmes for the farming community.

As the Cauvery Delta districts are predominant with paddy cultivation, his initial interest was in organic rice production. Later, he realised that the coastal districts are prone to the climate variations and every year farmers faced problems either with flood or cyclone.

Identifying varieties

After four to five years of tireless work, he was able to find 15 traditional paddy varieties in 2004 and cultivated in the farm with the aim of multiplying the traditional seeds and making it available to more number of farmers.  In 2005, he organised a first ever traditional paddy seed festival in the farm by an individual. 

That year, he distributed two kg of traditional paddy seeds of 15 varieties to more than 300 farmers.  With the overwhelming responses to the seed, festival has motivated him to organise traditional paddy seed festival every year and also increase the traditional paddy varieties every year. 

The seed festival in May 2012 at Adhirangam was 8th in a row and in which 64 different traditional varieties were distributed to more than 1000 farmers across Tamil Nadu. He distributes these varieties to the farmers with a promise that they have to return two fold quantity of the seeds in the next season. He maintains records of farmers who have benefited from the seed festival.

Mr. Jayaraman attracted the attention of many bank officials and convinced them to support his initiatives continuously. Till date he has trained a team of farmers and regularly update them on the current issues that are affecting farmers. Last year, he received the State Award for best organic farmer for his contribution to organic farming.

Apart from this, he is involved in organising safe food campaign in schools and colleges, consumer forums like Rotary club and Lion’s club on the health impacts of chemicals used in agriculture. He has delivered talks in more than 300 schools and colleges and is also helping the farmers to form Farmer’s Club.

He was invited by the Philippines Government to give a talk at the International Rice Research Institute on his work and mission.

(M.J. Prabu is The Hindu’s Agriculture correspondent. He writes the popular Farmer’s Notebook. Write to him at

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 8:06:06 PM |

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