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Padma Awards 2021: The heroes of Indian agriculture

The recipients of this year’s Padma Shri, in the field of farming, have earned merit for adopting organic practices

Pappammal from Tamil Nadu. (Photo Courtesy: VVS Laxman, Twitter)

105-year-old Pappammal from Tamil Nadu was awarded the Padma Shri on the eve of Republic day for her contribution to organic farming. Inspired by her success, cricketer VVS Laxman tweeted, "Age is only a number. 105-year-old Pappammal is a legend in organic agriculture. She works at her field in Thekkampatti, TN, and cultivates millets, pulses & vegetables across 2.5 acres & runs a provision store & eatery. She has been honoured with the #PadmaShri award." The agriculturist, who is known to participate in farmers-related events and protests, is the oldest recipient of the award this year.

Every year on the eve of Republic Day, several individuals are honoured with the prestigious Padma Awards for their distinguished service in the fields art, science, sports, social work and agriculture, among others. This year, the four awardees in the area of agriculture mostly comprised those who are dedicated to organic farming.

Uttarakhand’s Prem Chand Sharma, a 63-year-old farmer, received the civilian honour for his work in high-yield fruit and vegetable production that adopt organic methods. His farm is in the village Hatal-Sainj in Uttarakhand. Sharma dropped out of school and pursued his interest in farming from a young age. In 2000, he developed a nursery to grow high yielding pomegranates and distributed them among 350 farmers in his state. “My work helped farmers of my village to move to the production of fruits and vegetables. In 2013, I formed the Fruits and Vegetables Production Committee by gathering about 200 farmer families. After seeing the good earning from fruits and vegetable farming, many youths of the village have also joined farming,” Sharma told Hindustan Times. He wants to continue working for the development of ‘clean’ farming.

Uttarakhand’s Prem Chand Sharma is a 63-year-old farmer who received the Padma Shri yesterday. (Photo: Hindustan Times)
Uttarakhand’s Prem Chand Sharma is a 63-year-old farmer who received the Padma Shri yesterday. (Photo: Hindustan Times)

Chandra Shekhar Singh of Varanasi, another farmer from North India, was conferred the Padma Shri for his work in high-yield seeds.

Meghalaya’s Nanadro B Marak is a pioneer in organic black pepper farming. The 61-year-old agriculturist from the West Garo Hills was awarded the Padma Shri by President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday. He inherited five hectares of land from his in-laws in the 1980s. With an investment of 10000, he planted about one hundred trees which have now grown to 3,400 trees transforming the land into a mini spice forest. He has been able to maintain the quality of his crop, which earned him an income of 17 Lakh in 2019, The Better India reported in October 2020. Marak organises training workshops for farmers interested in spice cultivation. “Right from soil levelling, seed quality, mulching, composting to timely harvesting of crops, every step is crucial here. If there is water stagnation for more than 24 hours, the trees can easily be infected with diseases. I also adopted intercropping and planted areca nut trees in between pepper to get an extra source of income from the same plot,” Marak told The Better India.

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