1. Success Story

Kerala Farmer Imports Seeds from India & Japan to Grow 650 Different Paddy Varieties

Sathyanarayana Beleri, a native of Kasaragod's Nettinege village, grew up surrounded by magnificent paddy fields. He adored the paddy crop, its fields, and the walkways that connected them, where reapers gathered paddy bundles after harvesting.

M Kanika
Sathyanarayana Beleri
Sathyanarayana Beleri

Sathyanarayana Beleri, a native of Kasaragod's Nettinege village, grew up surrounded by magnificent paddy fields. He adored the paddy crop, its fields, and the walkways that connected them, where reapers gathered paddy bundles after harvesting.

His family, unfortunately, never had a paddy farm.

Sathyanarayana now owns a paddy field with over 650 varieties of rice from all over the world at the age of 48. Because of its location, his 4 acres of land were not appropriate for paddy production, but this did not demotivate Sathyanarayana.

He used canvas and grows bags to create an artificial paddy field on his 25 cents of land. He mainly produces rice varieties in grow bags with water stored in the tarpaulin. A few kinds are grown directly on the land as well.

"I am not cultivating paddy for profit, but for the love of it, as well as to preserve a diverse range of paddy varieties found throughout our country and even abroad." "Students and researchers come to my farm all the time to see these uncommon rice kinds," said Sathyanarayana.

Rice from many states, including Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, and Manipur, are among the paddy varieties in Sathyanarayana's collection. Rice types from countries other than India, such as the Philippines and Japan, are also available. Paddy variants such as Kagga, which grows in saline soil, Vellathovan, which grows in water-scarce terrain and even kinds with several therapeutic benefits such as Ambemohar, Karigajavali, and others, are included in the collection. 

On his field, he grows rice varieties in a variety of colors, including white, black, red, purple, and green.

I replant them into the grow bags with soil and cow dung powder when they germinate. Then I put the grow bags in the water-filled tarpaulin. I use this strategy since the soil is not appropriate for paddy production, which requires constant watering. This approach aids in the storage of water, ensuring that the grow bags receive the proper amount of moisture. It also aids in the reduction of the rat problem." Sathyanarayana explains.

On Sathyanarayana's field, all paddy varieties are labelled. He maintains the grow bags separated from each other when the paddy flowers to avoid cross-pollination. Each grows bag yields around 300 g of seeds. He also freely distributes the seeds of his rice types to those in need.

Paddy varieties from his collection have been employed in breeding programmes at the Kerala Agricultural University and the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences in Shivamogga.

Collecting Rice Varieties for Almost 15 years

When Sathyanarayana learned of an organic farmer in Udupi who was giving out seeds of the Rajakayame rice variety, he began collecting rice varieties almost 15 years ago.

It was the first rice type he planted on his acreage, and he continued to grow new varieties each year after that. He's even visited several states in pursuit of different paddy kinds.

He said "I have friends and family that bring me paddy seeds from all over the world. The Kerala Agricultural University has also provided me with seeds; I also receive seeds from several agricultural professionals and researchers across the country."

The Union Ministry of Agriculture has honored Sathyanarayana for his efforts in preserving rare and ancient rice species. On November 11th, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar awarded him the 'Plant Genome Savior Farmer Reward' in Delhi. The Kerala Agricultural University nominated him.

"I am honored to receive this award, and it serves as a source of inspiration for farmers like me." "I'd like to devote this honor to all of Kasaragod's rice growers," Sathyanarayana said.

On his remaining acreage, Sathyanarayana plants rubber, nutmeg & areca nut in addition to paddy. He also started gathering several species of jackfruit, mango, and pepper trees from various locations.

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