Farmers to govt: Promote self-reliance, ban hybrids
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