Nel Jayaraman’s supporters to host seed fest in Thiruthuraipoondi

Raju with his uncle Nel Jayaraman.

Chennai: Farmer and activist Nel Jayaraman’s works have been made a part in Class 12 revised State board Botany textbook in Tamilnadu. A reference is given to the organic farming exponent in the curriculum alongside eminent agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan and popular agronomist Norman Borlaug.

“My uncle always spoke about traditional seeds and organic farming to youngsters and children. I hope the school students help me fulfill his desires,” tells S Raju, nephew of Jayaraman.

The organic farmer is known for collecting, preserving and reviving around 150 native varieties of paddy. He was battling with skin cancer and breathed last 6 December 2018.

“If given a chance to live for another decade, I’m sure, I would have taken organic farming to every nook and corner of India.” These were the last words of Jayaraman, Raju informs News Today.

Recalling Jayaraman’s final days, Raju, who is also an auditor, says, “He was keen to help the villages that bore the brunt of Cyclone Gaja by planting trees. However, his ill-health did not permit him to visit and we will now distribute free saplings during the festival.”

To make his dreams come true, supporters have gathered again to host the 13th National Seed Festival or Nel Thiruvizha at Thiruthuraipoondi, 8 and 9 June by consumer organisation CREATE and Sangam 4.

“Two kgs of traditional seeds would be distributed to farmers who should take up the responsibility of bringing four kgs of the same variety during the next annual festival. If done, it will help to revive the indigenous strains,” says Raju, who is also one of the campaign coordinators.

As per his wish, the programme is being entirely planned and organised by youngsters, unlike the previous years where they were just volunteers. In memory of Jayaraman, a cancer camp would be held for screening people.

Although the festival has been happening for over a decade, the organisers, this year, have a request to be heard. Raju says, “Since several years, the government has been distributing saththunavu to school children. Our collective appeal is to consider making the meal with the crops grown with the traditional seeds, that benefits the farmers who support us.”

“Close to 40,000 peasants are following his footsteps and are cultivating the indigenous paddy seeds. While people are already buying the produce, support from the government here would give ray of hope to them,” he adds.

With this festival, Raju hopes to take at least 15 variants of native paddy to households. “There is no use of reviving hundreds of kinds, it has to be consumed by people. Stalls selling the same will also be exhibited as part of the convention,” he says.

Bhavani Prabhakar