Texmo Industries Est. 1956

People in Agriculture - Krishnaswami Ramiah

Coimbatore is a city in Tamil Nadu and is famous for quite a few things including wet grinders, educational institutions, and quality of life. The Kovai Kora cotton saree has been recognised as a Geographical indication by the Government of India in the year 2014. Speaking of cotton, it is also worth mentioning that Coimbatore District also has the largest number of cotton mills and is the biggest producer of cotton in Tamil Nadu.
Cotton production is not the only agricultural activity associated with this city. Coimbatore does have quite a rich legacy in terms of academics too. For instance, the Sugarcane Breeding Institute was established in 1912. In 1971, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) was created from an agriculture school that dated back to 1868. One of the ‘components’ of the TNAU was the ‘Paddy Breeding Station’ (now known as the Department of Rice) and this is where the story of Krishnaswami Ramiah begins.

Photo of Krishnaswami Ramiah

Photo credit

Born in 1892, Krishnaswami Ramiah started his agricultural career as a research staff member in the Paddy Breeding Station in 1914. His commitment and contribution to agriculture culminated in him being awarded the Padma Bhushan in the year 1970. 
It was almost totally about rice as far as Krishnaswami Ramiah’s life and career were concerned. Among many other things, Ramiah was known for his work on rice breeding, standardisation of rice gene symbols, & was the first scientist in India to conceptualise the program on systematic rice hybridisation.

Gloved hands checking crops with chemical symbols around

No wonder then that Ramiah was selected to be the Founder Director of the Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) in Cuttack, Odisha. This was in the year 1946 and just 20 years later, CRRI was brought under the umbrella of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Ramiah’s work and influence went beyond India. For instance, his expertise helped in the Indo-Japonica Hybridization programme, which was sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). He also led an FAO initiative, called the International Rice Commission. Ramiah was also appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1938.
Thanks to his work in rice breeding, two varieties of rice were released in Malaysia and one variety, the ADT 27 in India.    He also wrote two books titled, ‘Rice in Madras’ and ‘Rice Breeding and Genetics’.
As a geneticist and agriculture scientist, Ramiah helped produce new cross breeds of rice through breed improvement and selection processes. His influence holds good even today thanks to the Ramiah Memorial Lecture instituted by The Centre for Environmental Science and Engineering of the Indian Institute of Technology. Mumbai.