PUDUCHERRY: T Venkatapathi Reddiar (65), a farmer from Koodapakkam here, has been selected for the Padma Shri award in recognition of his pioneering work in horticulture. His innovative methods have resulted in many farmers vying for his advice on improving returns from their farms through horticulture.
“I realised that horticulture was more productive and remunerative in comparison to paddy which was becoming increasingly difficult. I reduced the area under paddy cultivation and increased area under horticulture and progressed to researching areas such as budding, tissue culture and rose cultivation”, says Reddiar.He soon mastered the nuances of developing varieties of crossandra with the help of translated research papers on the subject. “Using Gamma radiation I developed 30 mutant high-yielding varieties in association with the Indira Gandhi Atomic Centre, Kalpakkam, which I had named after former President Abdul Kalam,” says Reddiar. This variety of wild crossandra is resistant to fungal infection and has a prolonged life of five years compared to the normal six months. These varieties adorn Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapathi Gardens in New Delhi, at the behest of Kalam. The farmer also presented Kalam with a large-size guava weighing 700 gm, named ‘Kalam’ developed by him through in virto-propagation using gamma radiation. A sapling of the hybrid variety of guava was also planted in Rastrapathi Bhavan, said Reddiar. He not only received appreciation from Kalam, but the former President also hosted a lunch at Rashtrapathi Bhavan in his honour.
Further he developed new high-yielding varieties of casuarina MIQ-Junghuhniana in 2011, which is disease-free as well. “It is the first time that this casuarina variety has been developed by vegetative propagation,” he said. He named it after CM N Rangasamy as he has been highly “supportive“, says Reddiar. With recognition coming in the form of an award, Reddiar is looking at developing more hybrid varieties. “Farmers will get more higher yield and remuneration,” said Reddiar.