President Kovind presents Padma Shri to Smt Kamala Pujari for Agriculture. An agriculturist from Odisha, Ms Pujari has collected endangered and rare types of seeds such as paddy, turmeric, tili, black cumin, mahakanta, phula, and ghantia
A tribal woman, Pujari has been a pioneer of preserving hundreds of local varieties of paddy and for promoting organic farming. An agriculturist from Odisha, Ms Pujari has collected endangered and rare types of seeds such as paddy, turmeric, tili, black cumin, mahakanta, phula, and ghantia.
Who is Kamala Pujari?
Kamala Pujari, who hails from tribal-dominated Koraput district, has been preserving local paddies in her area. She has preserved hundreds of indigenous varieties of paddy. As far as Kamala is concerned, conserving paddy and promoting organic farming is not a pass time.
She took traditional farming seriously and had learnt the basic techniques from the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation at Jeypore, Odisha. After getting the training, she mobilised people, arranged group gatherings, and interacted with people to shun chemical fertilisers. She called many people to join with her and knocked door to door from village to village. Her efforts bore fruit and farmers in Patraput village and neighbouring villages in Nabarangpur District gave up chemical fertilisers. She formed a seed bank along with the local women in Patraput, with the help of the Swaminathan Foundation.
She also participated in a workshop on organic farming organised by MS Swaminathan Foundation at Johannesburg in 2002. Her efforts towards organic farming were appreciated by the participants across the world.
When Pujari first heard of her nomination for the Padma award, she admitted having little knowledge about its enormity. The 70-year-old was hospitalised around the same time, the nominations were announced, had then said, “I have a little knowledge of the award and the purpose for which it was given to me,” as reported by The New Indian Express.
She holds the unique distinction of being the first tribal woman to be included in the list of members of the Odisha State Planning Board. She was made a member of the five-member team in March 2018 that makes a five-year plan for the state apart from providing short and long-term policy guidelines.
In 2002, Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT) in Bhubaneswar was named after Kamala. She had won Equator of Initiative Award in 2002. The Odisha government had felicitated her as the best woman farmer in 2004.