Meet Andaman's 'Nariyal Amma', chosen for Padma Shri for organic coconut farming

03:15 PM Jan 26, 2024 | PTI |

Port Blair: Kamachi Chellammal, a 67-year-old woman of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was selected for the Padma Shri award for her outstanding contribution to organic coconut plantation.


Chellammal, popularly known as ‘Nariyal Amma’ hails from Rangachang in South Andaman.

She said she uses coconut leaves and husks as mulching on the plantation to preserve moisture in the soil during the post-rainy season.

Mulching is the act of covering the soil with mulches such as bark, wood chips, leaves, and other organic materials in order to preserve moisture and improve the condition of the soil.

Chellammal said her method not only helps in minimising moisture loss from the soil but also reduces the weed population which is extremely important for a healthy coconut plantation.


She also adopted Integrated Pest Management strategy, instead of harmful chemicals, in which she opted for trap plants’ (which varies from one plantation to another) to attract insects to release pheromones (in the air) which disrupt the natural mating cycle of pests.

This helped her control the pest population.

“I also did coconut-based multi species cropping by effectively utilising interspaces in my 10 acres of land. This integrated farming system helped me to overcome the challenges of the low market price of coconut (before the implementation of MSP). This also helped me in generating more revenue,” Chellammal said.

For multi species cropping, she uses various plants such as elephant foot yam, banana, groundnut, pineapple, sweet potato, green chilly, tube rose, gladiolus, marigold and green vegetables.

Over the years, Chellammal encouraged other farmers to adopt organic farming.

Expressing gratitude to the Centre for selecting for the Padma Shri award, she told PTI that after getting the first phone call from the government, she thought it was a prank.

“I live in a remote village and that too in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Why will someone confer me with such a prestigious award? I was confused but later, someone from the Andaman administration told me that I was really awarded with the Padma Shri,” she said.

Her son Ramachandran who helps Chellammal in her farming too was delighted with the news and said that they are now planning to promote agro-tourism in their farmland.

“I personally feel that agro-tourism has a lot of potential and I am sure our variety of crops, spice gardens, and fish farming will draw not only the local people, and students but also a lot of tourists,” he said.


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