Agriculturalist who revived 174 ‘lost’ paddy seed varieties dies at 54

R “Nel” Jayaraman, who revived over 174 traditional paddy seed varieties in Tamil Nadu, died in Chennai on Thursday. He was 54 and is survived by wife and a son.

Jayaraman began his journey to revive lost seeds in 2004 with his mentor late Nammalvar, a pioneer of organic farming, by collecting over a dozen varieties believed to have been lost. While Nammalvar died in 2013, Jayaraman continued his efforts, collecting up to 174 traditional seeds.

T Jayaraman, an expert and a traditional farmer, said Nel Jayaraman’s efforts to revive native paddy seeds have a major significance at a time when farmers in delta and many other parts of Tamil Nadu are facing climatic challenges with new short-term varieties.