The state coordinator of the ‘Save Our Rice Campaign, ‘Nel’ Jayaraman, passed away on Thursday (6 December) morning at a private hospital in Chennai after a long battle with cancer. His death has left many agriculturists heartbroken as he sacrificed the entirety of his life towards protecting native paddy varieties for future generations, reports The New Indian Express.
Jayaraman, who is a native of Kattimedu village in Tiruvarur district, worked tirelessly with a goal of promoting the cause of preserving native paddy seeds by following in the footsteps of his mentor Nammalvar. His determination and popularity as a conservationist earned him the nickname - Nel Jayaraman, (Nel means Paddy seed in Tamil).
Jayaraman organised the Paddy Seed Festival in May annually since 2006. The festival helped farmers by distributing seeds worth two kilograms of native varieties free of cost to them. He has also inducted an estimated 37,000 farmers into organic farming which in turn increased paddy production along with training a team of farmers to update him on the issues affecting them regularly.
His work has been recognised by both the state and the centre as he received the National Award for the best Genome Savior in 2015 and also the State Award for the best organic farmer to highlight his contribution the field, in 2011.
Jayaraman, has also authored books like Mamarunthagum Parampariya Nel and Nellathikaram on the importance and protection of native paddy varieties, had redeemed 174 varieties of paddy which includes Gundu Kar, Salem Samba, Sigappu Kuruvikar, Kallimadaiyaan, Ajamannar, Kavuni, Milagu Samba, Samba Mochanam, Vadan Samba, Pichavaari, Navara and Neelan Samba. He also tirelessly worked for popularising these varieties.
Recently, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had granted Rs 5 lakh as financial assistance to Jayaraman as he was suffering come from cancer.