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Meet Sathyanarayana Beleri, Padma Shri Awardee, Revolutionizing Farming with 650 Unique Rice Varieties

Sathyanarayana Beleri, a Rice farmer from Kasaragod, has received Padma Shri recently for preserving 650 traditional rice varieties, successfully introducing 'Rajakayame' rice boosting production and conservation across 3 states Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. Moreover, he has been innovating the technique 'Polybag Method' - for the last 15 years and conserving not only indigenous rice varieties but also traditional seeds of arecanut nutmeg and black pepper. He has been growing different varieties of rice from Japan and Philippines to name a few. Previously, he also received an award from the Union Ministry of Agriculture in 2021.

Aysha Anam
Padma Shri Sathyanarayana Beleri (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@mygovindia)
Padma Shri Sathyanarayana Beleri (Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@mygovindia)

Sathyanarayana Beleri, a dedicated rice farmer hailing from Kasaragod, recently received the prestigious Padma Shri for his outstanding contribution to the preservation of 650 traditional rice varieties. His remarkable efforts extend beyond borders, with the successful introduction of the 'Rajakayame' rice variety, fostering production and conservation across three states – Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

Padma Shri Sathyanarayana Beleri's Polybag Method

For the past 15 years, Sathyanarayana has been a pioneer in the innovative 'Polybag Method,' not only conserving indigenous rice varieties but also safeguarding traditional seeds of areca nut, nutmeg, and black pepper. His commitment extends globally, as he cultivates diverse rice varieties from countries like Japan and the Philippines, demonstrating a passion that goes beyond profit.

Sathyanarayana Beleri's Rice Method

Sathyanarayana's accolades include recognition from the Union Ministry of Agriculture in 2021. He has played a pivotal role in advancing research and conservation by providing 50 rice varieties to research centers and distributing free rice seeds to fellow farmers.

Expressing his passion, Sathyanarayana emphasizes, "I am not cultivating paddy for profit but for the love of preserving a diverse range of paddy varieties found throughout our country and even abroad." His farm has become a hub for students and researchers, who frequent the space to witness the uncommon and valuable rice varieties.

Sathyanarayana's collection includes rice varieties from various Indian states such as Kerala, Karnataka, Assam, and Manipur, alongside international additions from the Philippines and Japan. His curated collection encompasses paddy variants like Kagga, resilient to saline soil, and Vellathovan, thriving in water-scarce terrain. Noteworthy therapeutic varieties, including Ambemohar and Karigajavali, further enrich his diverse rice inventory.

In explaining his unique cultivation methods, Sathyanarayana details, "I replant them into grow bags with soil and cow dung powder when they germinate, placing them in water-filled tarpaulin. This strategic approach aids in water conservation and mitigates issues like rat infestations."

Labeling each paddy variety, he meticulously separates grow bags during flowering to prevent cross-pollination, ensuring the purity of each strain. With each grow bag yielding approximately 300g of seeds, Sathyanarayana generously distributes these seeds to those in need.

His journey began 15 years ago when he learned of an organic farmer in Udupi sharing seeds of the Rajakayame rice variety. Since then, Sathyanarayana has been on a quest, planting new varieties each year and even traveling across states in search of unique paddy strains.

Sathyanarayana Beleri Awards

Honored by the Union Ministry of Agriculture with the 'Plant Genome Savior Farmer Reward,' Sathyanarayana remains humble, attributing the award to all rice growers in Kasaragod. Beyond his dedication to rice cultivation, his remaining acreage hosts rubber, nutmeg, and areca nut, showcasing a holistic approach to sustainable farming. Additionally, he has become a custodian of diverse jackfruit, mango, and pepper tree species from various locations, contributing to the rich agricultural heritage of the region."

Apart from him an organic farmer from Andaman, K Chellammal, Tribal farmer from Chirang, Sarbeswar Basumatary, and India's first female elephant mahout Parbati Baruah being conferred with the Padma Shri award this year.

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