Suc­cess­ful the nat­u­ral way, they guide oth­ers...

Sunday Express - - SUNDAY STORY -

It is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that or­ganic farm­ing is flour­ish­ing in all parts of the State, thanks to ac­tivists and vol­un­teers, who take up this cause with a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the fu­ture gen­er­a­tion.

There are many who prac­tice or­ganic farm­ing suc­cess­fully and in­ter­est­ingly, most of them are ei­ther young or mid­dle-aged. More­over, many are spread­ing the mes­sage about the need to go or­ganic. A Tamil Sel­van (27), a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer by pro­fes­sion, is one of the vol­un­teers of The Week­end Agri­cul­tur­ists (TWA) group, who work with small and mar­ginal farm­ers of vil­lages on the out­skirts of Chennai.

At present, the group has taken over two acres of land in Alathur vil­lage near Thirunin­dravur and is cul­ti­vat­ing paddy and other crops de­pend­ing on sea­sons. They have a farm pond at one end to store rain­wa­ter that is used for ir­ri­ga­tion dur­ing sum­mer. Be­sides, it helps drain ex­cess rain­wa­ter to the main canal, apart from sus­tain­ing the ground­wa­ter ta­ble.

“We are not ex­perts in or­ganic farm­ing. We learn from those al­ready in the field and in­cul­cate the same to the oth­ers. Ini­tially, the farm­ers here were re­luc­tant, but now, they are show­ing con­fi­dence. Farm­ers ask us about or­ganic farm­ing since we do vol­un­tary ser­vice. We are doc­u­ment­ing our work in these two acres and keep­ing an ac­count of the ex­penses in­curred. We are plan­ning to show it as a pre­sen­ta­tion to prove or­ganic farm­ing is fea­si­ble and good for soil,” Tamil Sel­van said.

Around 15,000 en­thu­si­asts are fol­low­ing the TWA group in the face­book : https://www.face­book.com/groups/ the­week­enda­gri­cul­tur­ist/. The farm

ers in Alathur area are doubt­ful about mar­ket­ing crops grown or­gan­i­cally and to re­solve that, TWA is work­ing on a new project.

K Sabi Ashok (37), hail­ing from Na­ga­p­at­ti­nam, was a tech­ni­cal safety en­gi­neer in the Oil and Nat­u­ral Gas Com­pany in Abu Dhabi and draw­ing around `10 lakh per month. But now, he is prac­tic­ing or­ganic farm­ing in 10 acres of lands in Ne­dun­gadu vil­lage in Tiruvarur district. “Of the 10 acres, I grow tra­di­tional fruit va­ri­eties — jack­fruit, pomegranate, guava, mango, sapota and tea, paddy in four acres. In one acre, we have a farm pond and an­other acre, plan­tain trees. In a quar­ter acre, jas­mine flow­ers. Though the in­come is very less when com­pared to what I got abroad, I get a good night’s sleep and good health. I took it up amid op­po­si­tion from my fam­ily.”

S Thiru­murthi (38), an or­ganic farmer who owns 10 acres of land near Bha­vani river at Satya­man­galam, is quite suc­cess­ful too. “De­spite se­vere drought, I was able to have 50 per cent yield. Had I ap­plied chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers, I would not have got this yield for one sim­ple rea­son — when­ever chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers are used, the soil needs more wa­ter and in the ab­sence of ex­cess wa­ter, the crop gets with­ered.

“For pro­duc­ing one kg of rice, you need 3,000 litres to 5,000 litres of wa­ter. But for mil­lets like Kambu, Ragi and Maize, only 250 litres of wa­ter is re­quired. So, when you have less wa­ter, the farm­ers should go for mil­lets. And since Tamil Nadu is a wa­ter-scarce State, it should turn to or­ganic farm­ing,” he pointed out. He said the gov­ern­ment should not en­cour­age hy­brid seeds at any cost be­cause they are re­spon­sive only to chem­i­cals. He is also rear­ing tra­di­tional Kangeyam bulls.

Though the in­come is very less when com­pared to what I got abroad, I get a good night’s sleep and good health. I took it up amid op­po­si­tion from my fam­ily K Sabi Ashok, farmer who gave up a job in the UAE

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