Farm­ers to govt: Pro­mote self-re­liance, ban hy­brids

Sunday Express - - SUNDAY STORY -

Tamil Nadu is blessed with seven var­ied agro-cli­matic zones such as coastal plains, west­ern ghats, hilly re­gions and in­land ar­eas, of­fer­ing wide scope for cul­ti­va­tion of al­most all kinds of trop­i­cal and sub­trop­i­cal crops and some tem­per­ate crops too. Thus, the State has am­ple scope for be­com­ing an or­ganic State in quick pace.

At present, or­ganic farm­ing is flour­ish­ing in Tamil Nadu qui­etly, due to con­tri­bu­tion of in­di­vid­u­als and cam­paigns of lead­ers like the late Nam­mazh­var. How­ever, or­ganic farm­ers have cer­tain ex­pec­ta­tions from the gov­ern­ment.

Activist M Sen­thamizhan says hav­ing a or­ganic farm­ing pol­icy is the first step. “There is a no­tion that go­ing or­ganic is a con­ces­sion. This should change. The syl­labus for the Tamil Nadu Agri­cul­ture Univer­sity should be com­pletely re­vised. This univer­sity seems to have much more power than the agri­cul­ture min­istry, be­cause it sub­mits re­search pa­pers on pes­ti­cides etc., so they make im­por­tant de­ci­sions. The univer­sity should or­gan­ise classes on or­ganic farm­ing from those who prac­tice it al­ready.”

“At present, or­ganic ma­nures are pro­vided for the farm­ers. It is nec­es­sary for the soil dur­ing the tran­si­tion pe­riod. But for those who learn nat­u­ral farm­ing, even or­ganic ma­nures are not nec­es­sary. So, us­ing or­ganic ma­nure and pes­ti­cides for­ever can­not be ac­cepted as we tend to make the soil re­liant on some­thing else. Soil has the power to re­vi­talise it­self. At present, due to use of chem­i­cals, it has lost its vi­tal­ity and or­ganic ma­nures are help­ful in re­cov­er­ing stage. If this con­tin

ues, the farm­ers will be forced to buy or­ganic ma­nures from some com­pa­nies and the cy­cle will con­tinue,” he adds.

“The gov­ern­ment should be a fa­cil­i­ta­tor and should not poke its nose into ev­ery­thing. For ex­am­ple, at present, agri­cul­ture depart­ment of­fi­cials are giv­ing away hy­brid seeds that are chem­i­cal-re­spon­sive. So, adopt­ing or­ganic farm­ing and ad­vo­cat­ing hy­brid seeds won’t go hand in hand. Over a pe­riod, tra­di­tional va­ri­eties of guava, pa­paya and pomegranate have dis­ap­peared only be­cause of hy­brids,” Sen­thamizhan ob­serves. “The next im­por­tant step is to col­lect tra­di­tional seeds from our farm­ers and pro­duce more such seeds and dis­trib­ute them.”

Pa­mayan of Thaalan­mai Uzhavar Iyakkam says tra­di­tional farm­ing had been prac­ticed by all, but things changed after World War II. He says the or­ganic farm­ing pol­icy of Tamil Nadu gov­ern­ment should have sel­f­re­liant farm­ing as its ba­sis. “The State pol­icy should en­sure farm­ing tech­niques that won’t pre­vent the nat­u­ral cy­cle of sus­tain­able liv­ing of or­gan­isms. Adopt­ing soil man­age­ment tech­niques which would en­sure the fer­til­ity of the soil, giv­ing pri­or­ity to tra­di­tional seeds and breed­ing of tra­di­tional va­ri­eties of live­stock are im­por­tant,” he says.

He also feels pro­mot­ing or­ganic farm­ing will help in re­liev­ing farm­ers from debt bur­den and make them sel­f­re­liant. It would re­duce in­put costs that goes into buy­ing chem­i­cal fer­tilis­ers and seeds from big com­pa­nies. The gov­ern­ment should en­sure the avail­abil­ity of tra­di­tional seeds that are na­tive to the re­gion in which they are cul­ti­vated, which above all, will en­sure non-toxic food, he says.

Even us­ing or­ganic ma­nure and pes­ti­cides for­ever can­not be ac­cepted as we tend to make the soil re­liant on some­thing else. Soil has the power to re­vi­talise it­self M Sen­thamizhan, Activist

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