Nel Jayaraman's seeds of change

Remembering Nel Jayaraman who touched the lives of hundreds of farmers by reviving traditional paddy varieties

His was a festival with a difference. Every farmer who participated, walked away with seeds of traditional rice varieties, with the promise of returning double the quantity the next year. At the 10th Seed Festival held in May 2016, Nel Jayaraman (‘nel’ is paddy in Tamil), distributed 156 seed varieties to over 7,000 farmers across the State. Jayaraman died in December 2018 battling cancer. Ananthoo, founder of Chennai-based reStore and Organic Farmers Market, who has worked closely with Jayaraman, remembers his times with the organic farming visionary.

It must have been eight years ago. I was at Thiruvarur to attend the Nel Thiruvizha (Seed Festival) organised by Jayaraman.

I went there to volunteer; I’d heard about him from organic farming pioneer G Nammalvar and wanted to see if we could bring the varieties Jayaraman revived, to the market.

It was just a small affair then; some 500 people attended. But the festival grew exponentially from then on; from 500, the number of participants went up to 1,500 next year; and then to 2,500, 5,000… There was no looking back. When I entered the village of Adhirangam where the festival took place, I saw men carrying sacks of paddy; they came with five kilograms and returned with 10 kilograms the next year. That was how the seed exchange worked.....Read more

Source web page: The hindu

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