1. Home
  2. Success Story

From 300 Rupees to 300 Seed Varieties: Inspiring Journey of Arun Salai in Sustainable Farming and Seed Conservation

Salai Arun, an organic farmer from Mangalam in Musiri taluk, Tamil Nadu, is revolutionizing agriculture by travelling over 80,000 km to collect seeds from 300+ rare vegetable varieties.

Saurabh Shukla
From 300 Rupees to 300 Seed Varieties: Inspiring Journey of Arun Salai in Sustainable Farming and Seed Conservation
From 300 Rupees to 300 Seed Varieties: Inspiring Journey of Arun Salai in Sustainable Farming and Seed Conservation

In the lush fields of Tamil Nadu, one man's dedication to preserving agricultural diversity has won the hearts and minds of farmers throughout India. Salai Arun, an organic farmer, hailing from Mangalam village in Musiri taluk of Trichy district, has become a household name among farmers across India for his unique mission of collecting seed varieties.

With over 80,000 kilometers traveled within Tamil Nadu alone and more than 300 rare vegetable seed varieties collected, Arun's dedication to his mission is unparalleled. Recently Salai Arun shared his remarkable journey in an exclusive interview with Krishi Jagran.  

Arun's fascination with farming was deeply rooted in his childhood. Raised in his grandparents' home, he was profoundly influenced by his grandfather, who was actively engaged in agriculture. "I grew up watching farming practices from a young age. Although my grandfather did not allow me to participate in farming activities, this restriction only fueled my curiosity and passion for agriculture," Arun recalls.

His journey took a crucial turn in 2011 when he met Nammalvar Ayya at a book fair. Nammalvar, a renowned organic farming advocate, inspired Arun to attend his training sessions at Vanagam. Arun immersed himself in these classes, eventually conducting training sessions for others over nearly three years. This experience solidified his commitment to sustainable farming and seed conservation.

Arun's seed collection journey began in Tamil Nadu, where he traveled nearly 80,000 kilometers and collected 300 types of native vegetable seeds. For Example, he collected Bottle gourd- 15 varieties, broad beans- 20 varieties, tomato, chilli, ridge gourd, 10 varieties each. However, his ambition extended beyond state borders. Inspired by Che Guevara's "The Motorcycle Diaries," Arun aspired to travel across India. Despite facing health challenges, he began this mission in 2021 with only 300 rupees and support from friends.

"During my six-month journey across 15 states, I met seed vendors, collectors, and enthusiasts, distributing seeds for free," Arun recounts. This endeavor was not just about collection but also about sharing knowledge and preserving biodiversity. His extensive travels and interactions have made him a respected figure in the farming community.

Today, Arun's work continues to revolve around his passion for seeds and sustainable farming. He manages a garden on a 5-cent plot, cultivating around 300-350 varieties, including vegetables, greens, flowers, shrubs, herbs, and trees. "I decided to settle permanently in Meivazhi Salai and began managing this garden about a year and a half ago," he says.

Arun has also started selling the seeds he collected under the brand name "Karpagatharu." His collection includes a diverse range of seeds, such as 15 varieties of bottle gourd, 20 varieties of beans, and 10 varieties each of tomato, chili, and ridge gourd. He also collaborates with friends across India to share and exchange seed varieties.

Challenges and Insights

One of the significant challenges Arun identifies is the lack of awareness and knowledge among farmers and new seed vendors about the seed varieties and their planting seasons. "Many think that only paddy has specific seasons like Samba (August through January) and Kuruvai (short-term or lesser monsoon season), but these seasons apply to vegetables too," he explains. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the correct planting times to ensure successful yields.

Arun believes in the concept of organic farming. He recounts an instance where he let worms infest his bean plants instead of using pesticides. "After the pests left, the plants grew vigorously and yielded well," he notes, highlighting the benefits of organic farming.

Future Plans and Vision

Arun's vision for the future includes continuing his mission of promoting sustainable farming and seed conservation. "I believe in producing our own food. I will continue on this path," he asserts. He aims to educate more farmers about the importance of seed diversity and sustainable practices through training and awareness programs.

He also addresses the marketing challenges faced by farmers with new crop varieties. "Farmers need to work at least three years to build a market among locals. Efforts like weekly markets are needed to encourage local purchases," Arun suggests. He advocates for farmers to create their own brands and collaborate to establish a consistent market presence.

Arun's journey from a curious child observing his grandfather's farming practices to becoming a respected seed collector and sustainable farming advocate is truly inspiring. His dedication to preserving biodiversity and promoting organic farming practices underscores the vital role of traditional knowledge in modern agriculture.​

As he continues his mission, Arun remains a beacon of hope for farmers seeking to reconnect with sustainable and self-sufficient farming methods. His story is a testament to the power of perseverance, knowledge sharing, and the unwavering belief in the potential of seeds to transform lives and communities.

Take a Quiz on Green Revolution Take a quiz
Share your comments
FactCheck in Agriculture Project

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters