After the unfortunate demise of ‘Nammazhvar’ who pronounced the term ‘Natural Farming’ has started echoing like a holy mantra in the entire state of Tamizhagam. He strongly stood for the spread of natural farming despite his unique characteristics as an individual. It is a fact that he considered knowledge superior than education. He would wake up early by 5 o’ clock every morning and would begin farming activities. He used to eat mostly banana and coconut during breakfast, lunch with ragi or pearl millet porridge and broken gram with jaggery for dinner. He used to reiterate that those are the best food items. For the hard and uncultivable to be fertile and arable, trees should be planted. More trees of different varieties, especially fruit trees should be grown in those types of lands. This is what he emphasized for uncultivable lands. This is what he believed and preached. This is what he established at Kozhinji farm and Vanagam farm near Karur. In rain fed areas trees should be planted at the beginning of monsoon. In a farmer’s land there should be a teak tree, mango tree, and compulsorily a pomegranate and a lemon tree. The waste water should only be channelized to the plants. He did not stop just preaching but he would demonstrate by doing it. That is why he was able to make the arid lands to arable lands.
The hutment where he once lived inside the Kozhinji farm is named as ‘Thaadi Kudil’ (Beard man’s hut). Before the advent of Nammazhvar the place was haunted as the local people feared that there was a ghost in that premises. He built his own hut in the place and lived there in order to shatter the public fear about ghost. During night time he used to teach local children to read and write and the name ‘Thaadi Kudil’ was bestowed to his hut by his students who attended his classes.
He used to motivate the children by insisting “you should follow natural farming in your land. And you should teach about it to others. That’s the true pride for you and me”. When he visited various farm lands and villages he happily accepted the porridge or old rice water as if it was magic potion, offered to him by the villagers. He used to recommend what trees to be planted in specific places of a farm land while passing by the villages. While he was engaged in the farm activities he used to wear half trousers and a half sleeve shirt. He would never seek the help of others if he felt he could do it on his own. But if someone is engaged in an activity he would offer his helping hand whenever needed. Some of his colleagues would call him ‘Leader’ respectfully.
Among the things he liked the most were singing lullaby in the farm land and posting puzzles in a gathering. Similarly, in the evening he liked to play in the farm with others. Now, there are many who abandoned a salary of a lakh rupees and opted natural farming, there are organic markets and shops opened in innumerable streets, and there prevails public awareness about the importance of minor crops, which are nothing but the harvest of what Nammazhvar planted in the hearts of multitudes when he was alive. He is a man who dedicated his life solely for the spread of organic farming and struggle in relation to its cause. The most significant contribution was his protest against methane gas generation by the government agencies. It was his noble expectation that the places where he provided training on organic farming should evolve into greenery. The seed of interest about organic farming that he planted in the hearts of farmers has now sprouted into hundreds of organic farmers throughout the district and beyond, keeping the organic movement alive and vibrant.
(This article originally written by Durai.Nagarajan has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)