When Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently announced the names of the five new members of the state planning board, no one was surprised after seeing Kamala Pujari's name on the list.
Pujari, a tribal woman from Koraput district had become famous by preserving hundreds of local varieties of paddy and promoting organic farming.
She is also known for having persuaded villagers in her area to shun chemical fertilisers and adopt organic farming for better harvest and soil fertility.
"I had never dreamt of getting such a prestigious Government post. I came to know about the announcement from media. I would give priority to provide drinking water supply in the villages,” she said.
After getting trained at M S Swaminathan Research Foundation at Jeypore, she organised group meetings, interacted with the villagers and convinced them to take up organic farming. She had also joined a workshop on organic farming organised by the Foundation at Johannesburg in 2002 where her efforts were lauded by the participants across the globe.
She had also won the ‘Equator Initiative Award’ in South Africa in the same year.