Meet Kamala Pujari, the 70-year-old preserver of paddy seeds from Odisha who was awarded the Padma Shri

Known as the preserver of paddy seeds, Kamala Pujari not only practices organic farming, but has also preserved hundreds of indigenous paddy seeds throughout her life.

Born into a poor family in a tribal-dominated village in Koraput district, Odisha, Kamala Pujari has always been fascinated with traditional paddy seeds. This led to her cultivating paddy in her land so that she could preserve these grains for further germination. 

Over the years, Kamala has successfully preserved hundreds of indigenous paddies, and has also collected several endangered and rare types of seeds including paddy, turmeric, tili, black cumin, and mahakanta.  

Often called “preserver of paddy seeds”, Kamala’s efforts were recognised on a national level when President Ram Nath Kovind conferred her with the Padma Shri on March 16.  

When asked how she felt about the nomination she told The New Indian Express,

I have a little knowledge of the award and the purpose for which it was given to me,"

Kamala Pujari receiving Padma Shri award by the President, source President of India

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This isn’t the first time Kamala has been recognised for her hard work and dedication. Prior to this, she had received several awards, including ‘Best Women Farmer’ by the Odisha state government in 2004.

A love for farming

Kamala was always dedicated to traditional farming, and learnt basic farming techniques from the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Jeypore, Odisha. The Foundation also helped Kamala form a seed bank along with a few other women from her village.

After her training was over, Kamala went on to encourage other people and fellow farmers to stop using chemical fertilisers. She and a few of her fellow villagers formed groups and went from door to door, spreading awareness about organic farming in nearby villages. Her efforts showed result as farmers in Patraput village and neighbouring villages in Nabarangpur district gave up chemical fertilisers.

source Odisha Tv

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In 2002, Kamala went all the way to Johannesburg to participate in a workshop on organic farming organised by MS Swaminathan Foundation. She was applauded by participants from across the world, who appreciated her efforts towards organic farming, reports The Logical Indian.

In 2018, the Odisha State Planning Board, led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, added Kamala as one of its members.

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