105-year-old organic farmer from the South Indian city of Coimbatore, Pappammal was recently awarded India’s fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri.
And why did se receive this honour?
Pappammal is one of those personalities that proves that age is just a number.
A legend and crusader in the field of organic farming, Pappammal believes in keeping herself busy. Even at her age, she tends to her 2.5 acre field in Thekkampatti, a village on the banks of river Bhavani and cultivates millets, pulses, and vegetables. She also actively participates in a wide range of agriculture-related events.
Her day starts at dawn, when she takes a walk outside her home. After making a healthy meal with rice and millets such as ragi, she heads to her fields to work until dusk. Unfortunately, she has been at home the last year due to her ill health.
Her life story is also very inspiring. Born in 1914 in Tamil Nadu’s Devalapuram, Pappammal was brought up by her grandmother after she lost her parents at a young age. She inherited a provisions store from her grandmother than she ran successfully, saving just enough to buy 10 acres of land. Over time, she sold a major chunk of her land, but retained 2.5 acres for herself to do organic farming.
Today, she has three daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“I did everything on my own, with my own will. And today look at me, I have great grandchildren running around me. My life is very good. In my life, I am the king and the minister,” she said, emphasizing the importance of being independent and self-reliant.
Her grandson, R. Balasubramaniam said about his grandmother, “I have never seen her sit idle. Even now, at her age, she catches a bus on her own and goes out to meet people. When we were kids, we would get intimidated by her 6-ft height, powerful voice and strong opinions. She is still the same. All these years, she has never asked anyone for any help. She loves being around people but likes to do things on her own. Earlier, she used to do most of the work at the farm, but with age, she has cut down on physical labour. She has had wheezing spells as well, so we have asked her to not venture out much after the coronavirus outbreak.”
Hoping that her award will inspire many others to take up agriculture, she said, “Agriculture is a back-breaking job. It is very difficult but this is the life of the country. It requires you to put in a lot of work, and not just assign work to someone else. I hope that looking at how they’ve given such a prestigious award to a person from this background, many will be encouraged to take up farming.”