‘Nel’ Jayaraman dies in Chennai, last rites in native place Friday

‘Nel’ Jayaraman

Chennai: Widely acclaimed for his work of conservation and revival of several native paddy varieties of India, ‘Nel’ Jayaraman,  after a prolonged struggle with cancer, breathed his last in the wee hours of today.

For the past few months, he had been under treatment for skin cancer at a private hospital where his end came at 5.18 am today.

“He was under observation in the intensive care unit of Apollo Hospitals and the doctors pronounced his condition to be critical,” said Raju, Jayaraman’s nephew, to News Today last night and refuted rumours that popped up since Wednesday evening, claiming that Jayaraman had died.

But the rumours became true this morning, as Jayaraman lost his battle against cancer. The 54-year-old farmer is survived by his wife and son. The final rites will be performed tomorrow noon at his hometown in Kattimedu, Tiruvarur district.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has expressed shock about and expressed his condolences on Jayaraman’s death in a message.

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) president M K Stalin paid his last respects this morning and actor Sivakarthikeyan has taken up the expense to educate Jayaraman’s son and the cost to transport the mortal remains to Tiruvarur.

“It is a huge loss for the farming community. It was he who revolutionised and brought back organic rice cultivation,” said Stalin.

PMK founder S Ramadoss, MDMK general secretary Vaiko, TMC supremo G K Vasan, actors Karthi and Vishal have also expressed their condolences over Jayaraman’s death.

When the farmer was ailing in hospital, Sivakarthikeyan shared the medical expense. Tamilnadu Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr C Vijaya Baskar also extended financial help when he looked up Jayaraman in hospital in mid-November.

Jayaraman was the State coordinator of ‘Save Our Rice Campaign’ and was honoured with best organic farmer award in 2012 and 2013 by the State Agriculture Department, and the national award for best genome saviour in 2015.


An ardent follower of Nammalvar – a widely acclaimed agricultural scientist – in 2004, Jayaraman began his quest to revive native paddy varieties that led him to what he is now. But he did not just stopped there and continued to distribute the conserved seeds to farmers at rice festivals with the hope to make them available easily.

What started in a small scale grew into a huge movement. Today, around 40,000 peasants across Tamilnadu are cultivating the indigenous rice.

News Today front-paged a detailed story on Jayaraman and his illness on 22 October.

Bhavani Prabhakar