This year’s Padma awards recognises three scientists, including famous wheat breeder Ravi Prakash Singh, and five farmers, including ‘’Nariyal Amma”, the 69-year-old woman farmer from the Andaman & Nicobar Islands. All of them have been selected for the Padma Shri award.

K Chellammal, an organic farmer from South Andaman, demonstrated the efficacy of intercropping cultivation of clove, ginger, pineapples and banana. Though she studied up to class six only, Chellammal’s work has motivated more than 150 farmers, who have adopted the method.

She has also devised innovative, economical damage control measures for coconut and palm trees. She harvests over 27,000 coconuts each year from her 2-hectare orchard, which has 460 palms of the Andaman Ordinary Tall variety.

Satyanarayana Beleri, a paddy Conservator from Kasaragod in Kerala

Satyanarayana Beleri, a paddy Conservator from Kasaragod in Kerala

Other farmers, Sarbeswar Basumatary of Assam, Sathyanarayana Beleri of Kerala, Yanung Jamoh Lego from Arunachal Pradesh and Sanjay Anant Patil of Goa, will receive their awards from the President on a later date.

Lego, 58, is known as the queen of herbs in Arunachal Pradesh’s East Siang. An expert in herbal medicine, she is said to have provided medical care to over 10,000 patients, educated 1 lakh people about medicinal herbs, and has trained self-help groups (SHGs), according to government data.

According to official sources, Lego planted over 5,000 medicinal plants last year, and has been promoting the idea of setting up herbal kitchen gardens in each home in the district. She has also been working for the revival of the traditional healing system of the Adi tribe.

The 61-year-old Basumatary of Assam is a tribal farmer from Chirang, who has successfully adopted the mixed integrated farming approach. She has cultivated varieties of crops like coconut, orange, paddy, litchi and maize.

Kerala’s Beleri, a paddy farmer from Kasaragod, has preserved over 650 traditional rice varieties. The ‘Rajakayame’ rice variety developed by him has been accepted by farmers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “Through 15 years of hardwork, he has innovated the ‘Polybag Method’ for the conservation of indigenous rice varieties and traditional seeds such as arecanut, nutmeg and black pepper,” an official said.

Two agriculture scientists from Haryana, which is scheduled to go for assembly elections this year, have also been awarded the Padma Shri. While Hari Om, a close associate of Gujarat Governor Acharya Devvrat, has been recognised for his work in natural farming, Ram Chander Sihag, the former Dean of the College of Basic Sciences and Humanities under the CCS Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar

“I feel humble and happy to share the news that government has recognized my work on BeekeepingScience by awarding me the Padma Shri 2024. This has become possible due the support of all my colleagues, the hard working beekeepers of India and the superb facilities provided by my magnificent university,” Sihag posted on his page on LinkedIn.

Though late, Ravi Prakash Singh, an internationally acclaimed wheat breeder, who works as Head of the Global Wheat Improvement Research team in the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CYMMIT), has also been included in the list of Padma Shri awardees. Singh, who has developed over 550 wheat varieties in the past three decades, also received the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in 2021.