Kohima: Centenarian Melhite Kenye, a Guinness World Record holder for discovering the tallest paddy plant in the world in 1988, passed away at Chumoukedima in Nagaland on Tuesday February 22.
Also known as Nagaland’s ‘Paddy Man’, Kenye, who celebrated his 100th birthday on January 6, had discovered the 2.55-metre (8.5 feet) tall rice plant in October 1988 in Nagaland’s Chumukedi area.
Kenye’s family sources said that he found the unusually tall rice plant while on a jungle trek, but was unsure if it was rice at all. But he soon fenced the plant to protect it from wild animals, and harvested it.
The first plant he grew reached 2.49-metre in height, using 175 tillers from the mother stalk, and yielded an average of 540 grains in each ear.
Condoling the death, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said that Kenye was a renowned and distinguished personality in Nagaland who was awarded the Governor’s Gold Medal in 2002 for his discovery of the tallest paddy plant in the world in 1988.
Kenye, who was born in Chizami village, Phek district, in 1922, was one of the early Christian converts from that village. He married Kewetso-u Lasuh, who was also one of the early Christian converts from that village.
Kenye subsequently migrated to Dimapur, and served as a pastor at the Dimapur Chakhesang Baptist Church, and then as the pastor of Town Baptist Church, Chumoukedima, for nearly four decades, the Chief Minister said.
Rio said that his death is a great loss to the Nagas in general, and the Chakhesang community in particular.