21 March 2007

Traditional Farming

Some paddy (i.e. rice) farmers of Kalasamppakkam, a village near Tiruvannamalai are now using a variety of a nearly extinct seed 'Thuyamalli' in place of hybrid varieties.

A mechanic, P.T. Rajendran, working in the State Transport Corporation first introduced 'Thuyamalli' in the area because of fears about the economic, agrarian and health consequences of using hybrid varieties with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The seeds were obtained from a traditional seed activist from Chengam.

Since the introduction of this seed into the area other farmers have also started using varieties of traditional seeds such as kichily samba, karpalai, mappillai samba, samba moosanam, perungar, madumuzhungi and vadan samba. The change in seeds has marked a change in the system of their agriculture.

Farmers in adjacent lands using hybrid seeds which necessitate the additional use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, are getting 20 to 25 bags (75kg each) of paddy per acre whereas the traditional methods using only a small amount of cow dung as natural manure, yields 12 to 15 bags of paddy per acre. However the farmers using traditional natural methods feel the cost of chemical fertilizers and pesticides offset the reduced yield of rice in their fields.

P.T. Rajendran says: "In all these years of traditional farming, we have virtually not used pesticides, because these varieties are extremely pest resistant. Even when we were faced with a pest problem several times, we managed it with a concoction made out of local herbs. Non-utilisation of chemical pesticides not only has saved farmers' money, but has also ensured soil and human health. Now there are around 20 farmers in our village that have shifted to traditional seeds and become liberated from chemicals."

Currently farmers using the traditional 'Thuyamalli' are selling their produce mainly as seeds as the number of farmers shifting to traditional farming is increasing. These local farmers are extremely satisfied that traditional varieties of seeds and agricultural techniques are beginning to make a comeback. In this respect the farmers said,"We propagate to keep up this practice and not to give up to the marauding hybrid and Genetically Modified seeds marketed by Multi National Companies."

1 comment:

Divyakka said...

Yea! For the traditional, non-chemical methods! Hope more & more farmers start using them again.