Sikkim's lone nomination for the Padma Shri award for 2023 is 98-year-old Tula Ram Upreti from Assam Lingzey village in Pakyong district.
Upreti, an organic farmer for the past 8 decades has been a pioneer in the cultivation of paddy and other vegetables without the use of fertilizers, continuing Sikkim's practice of organic farming.
Upreti had been continuing the 'legacy of his forefathers in farming' even after he turned 90 years. His family members claim that he stopped only around 5-6 years due to recurring knee problems.
Prior to Sikkim adopting democracy, in the erstwhile kingdom, Upreti also was part of the trade with Yatung in Tibet during the 1940s and 1950s. He claimed, they had to travel with a cargo of rice, buckwheat and maize on foot to Tibet taking the famous silk route.
Also Read: Sikkim celebrates 74th Republic Day, CM releases three coffee table books
He cultivated his field stretched over 12 hectares with his bare hands and domestic cattle along with helpers later in his life. Upreti used to cultivate paddy, fresh vegetables, buckwheat, and maize among others.
The organic farmer also served as a local Panchayat from Lingzey ward under Assam Lingzey Gram Panchayat Unit for 25 years. He was also a two-time Panchayat President retiring from social service around 1996. He studied till Class five at Tashi Namgyal Higher Secondary School (now TN Senior Secondary School).
Upreti is survived by 8 sons and 7 daughters, 104 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Notably, his son KN Upreti served as a Minister and Legislator from the Rhenock constituency from 1979-99.
The 98-year-old owing to his age, couldn't respond to media queries. His daughter-in-law Sunita Upreti shared, "Upon hearing the news yesterday, we as a family wanted to be sure of his accomplishments before making him understand what award he was receiving. We received a call from the Home Ministry on Wednesday afternoon. Around early evening, we received similar confirmation from the Chief Minister's office and later from Pakyong District Collector.
Today, he has been invited by the DC to be part of the Republic Day celebration where he was felicitated. The family has been jubilant about his achievement, given how even as a 98-year-old he is making his family proud and giving us a legacy to hold on to".
His accomplishment and contribution to organic farming are being appreciated by the State government with many terming him as 'Father of Organic Farming', years before the Organic Mission was initiated in Sikkim 20 years ago.
Copyright©2024 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today