Nel Jayaraman, Farmer Who Preserved Traditional Paddy Dies in Chennai

Farmer and consumer activist, Nel Jayaraman, who devoted all his life in collecting, reviving and conserving traditional varieties of paddy died on 6 December after a long fight with cancer in Chennai. Jayaraman was so famous that the word Nel or paddy became part of his name.

The farmer who was closely connected with CREATE, a consumer organisation had been organizing paddy festival since 2005. He used to give 2 kg of traditional paddy seeds to farmers and in return took 4 kg after harvest.

Ranganathan, General Secretary of Cauvery Delta Farmers Association said, “Jayaraman’s passion earned the goodwill of an NRI from his village and he gave 9 acres of land for crop cultivation and conducting training programmes”.

Jayaraman, who also coordinated “Save Our Rice” movement, started with distribution of 15 paddy varieties and later increased to 64 varieties. He had collected over 170 varieties of paddy seeds.

Some of the main paddy varieties Jayaraman had maintained include:

  • Poongkar (for saline soil),

  • Kattuyanam (for flood condition),

  • Kuzhiyadichan (for alkaline soil),

  • Karunguruvai (for making biriyani),

  • Mappillai Samba (for high energy),

  • Samba Mosanam (for flat rice),

  • Arupatham Kuruvai (short duration variety).

This great cultivator had also received the best organic farmer award by Tamil Nadu government in 2011 and was invited by the International Rice Research Institute in Philippines.

After doctors diagnosed him with cancer, actor Sivakarthikeyan admitted him in a private hospital and also agreed to take care of his son’s educational expense. Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami had offered Rs. 5 lakh.

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