Considering the overall injustice meted out to the farmers of Tamil Nadu, we can set aside the problems of not getting adequate water from Cauvery and the severe drought, unheard of in the history of Tamil Nadu in the past 142 years, affecting the whole State. The recent fight by the farmers for various environmental and agricultural causes in Tamil Nadu - the 38-day strike in Delhi and reviving it now, and the undeterred struggle against hydrocarbon project in Neduvasal and against ONGC in Kadhiramangalam – though gaining momentum through public support, the utter negligence of the Central and State governments made the farmers completely lose confidence in continuing agriculture as their livelihood. These struggling farmers have started to believe that these governments are showing total disregard towards the plights of the farming community and at the same time the utter callousness of the authorities towards the only livelihood of the farming community which is nothing but farming.
At this juncture, there are two youngsters, not even reached thirty, Rajesh and Ganesamurthi, have invested 200% of their confidence in agriculture, that too in organic farming. The former, had completed M.A., B.Ed., with a dream to become a teacher but now has landed in agriculture. The latter, had an income of two lakhs per month in Singapore, after having completed technical course. But he gave up his lucrative job and now got into the mire of the agriculture field. The person who urged and inspired them to get into agricultural fields and bunds is none other than the great sage, Namazhvaar. Both of them visited a program recently organized in Vanagam, Karur.
In his farm, Rajesh has been cultivating the traditional rice varieties such as Maappillai samba, Karuppu kavuni and Kaattuyanam through organic farming. While those who follow chemical farming methods and using hybrid varieties could harvest 25 bags of rice, he could gain 36 bags from Mappillai samba. He was rewarded for his achievement during the program conducted at Vanagam.
‘Nammazhvaar Ayya was the one who seeded this interest within me. I hereby give a gift to Vanagam where his soul rests in peace as an offering to my Guru who motivated me to succeed in this venture’. He offered a kg of each variety of Maappillai samba, Karuppu kavuni and Kaattuyanam to Vanagam. Despite the dissension of his parents, Ganesamurthi got into farming after having abandoned his job abroad. Though he was shaken at the beginning he could also achieve what he intended to, in agriculture. At the same time, with an objective of ensuring easy access to organically grown vegetables and other agriculture products to the public and at the same time ensuring better profit to the farmers who are venturing organic farming, he has recently founded an organization by name ‘Tasmac’, in Pondichery, with the help of his friends who would buy and sell naturally grown products. These two youngsters are the reflection of the whole youths of Tamil Nadu and its conscience too. They genuinely attempted to fulfill the vow that ‘We shall not allow agriculture to get into quagmire in spite of hurdles in thousands’. That’s the extent of their conviction in regard to agriculture and commitment to organic movement. And that is the panacea for the farmers who are currently afflicted with despondence due to negligence of the government authorities. There is only one person responsible for all these glories and achievements. That’s because of that great old man, Nammazhvaar!
First we spoke to Rajesh about this.
“My native is Sadhanur village in Nagai district. I am 29 now. Though mine is an agriculture family, I did not have interest in agriculture till 2008. My father too intended me not to struggle in the field like him and therefore invested in my education. I studied intently with an aim to become a teacher in a government school. But incidentally I happened to meet Nammazhvaar Ayya in Pudukottai that changed my course of life and its principles. He urged, ‘You look so young. Do not abandon agriculture that provides food to the whole world. You can be a pilot. You become a scientist. But, continue agriculture as a part time, at least’. It struck me deeply. I threw out the idea of becoming a teacher from my heart and I started farming in my two acres of land. But I did not know theways and means of agriculture and remained blind to it. I started reading the books written by Nammazhvaar Ayya and also Pasumai Vikatan.
Besides, the neighboring land of five acres belonged to my friend, Amulraj. Therefore, we joined together into organic farming. In 2010, I cultivated Aaduthurai 38, a hybrid variety, organically. I could get only 15 bags per acre. The public mocked at me. I prayed to Nammazhvaar Ayya and cultivated a traditional variety, Seeragasamba, next year. That too yielded only 15 bags per acre. While investigating the reasons for the low yield, we reasoned it out to be infertility of the soil due to the damage caused by synthetic fertilizers and chemicals. So, we fertilized the soil organically, by natural means. Because of that we could get 25 bags of Seeragasamba. The same repeated in the consecutive years. But this year, by committing our spirit, body and soul to it we could get Mappillai samba and Karuppu kavuni, each 36 bags, per acre. Those farmers who invested on hybrid varieties like Ponni could get only 26 bags. Those who mocked at us are now feeling embarrassed. We have gathered about 50 traditional varieties like Kudavazhai, Poongar, etc. By offering those varieties to two hundred youths, I could help them transform into farmers, that too, organically. Let the governments be enemies to the farmers but not the farmers themselves. We will not allow the dreams of Nammazhvaar Ayya to wither away. We will act earnestly till the lost hope in agriculture is regained”.
Now it is Ganesamurthi’s turn of share.
“Palathalli is my native village, in Tanjore district. I had completed Diploma in Designing and earned two lakhs in Singapore. In spite of the dream come true life and all associated luxuries I felt empty within. When I visited my native on vacation in 2013 I was able to meet Nammazhvaar Ayya amidst the fight against methane project. Then only I realized that it is not only the money that makes one’s life. I returned home and conveyed to my family members that I did not wish to go back to Singapore but would do agriculture instead. The whole family was utterly shocked. Being angered my father shouted at me, “Are you mad? Would any one wish to lose the golden eggs for crow’s? But I remained determined. Though my dad stopped speaking to me I did not yield to him. I started farming with an acre of land. I planted Poongar, which yielded only 7 bags. But I was not discouraged. I developed five acres of our land by organic means. I cultivated Mappillai samba and Seeragasamba till 2015. But I could gain only 10 – 15 bags per acre.
But Nammazhvaar Ayya kept urging me within. By virtue of it, I could gain 46 bags per acre with Garudan samba that I bought from Nel Jeyaraman Ayya. My father who stopped speaking with me for the past five years has started speaking with me. He said, “I was afraid that the agriculture, which abandoned me should not abandon you too. That is why I tried to stop you. You won over the despondence that I had with agriculture. I will not fear anymore”. He started supporting me too. Meanwhile, we started fighting against methane project through online campaign. We made initiatives to prevent organic products being commercialized by the corporates. There are many venturing in to organic farming at present, as per the dreams of Nammazhvaar Ayya. But it’s unfortunate that those initiators are not able to get the right kind of market or profit for their efforts. In order to avoid that obstacle last 15th, we invited Rohini Madam and formed an organization named ‘Tasmac’ towards integrating the stake holders of organic food products. This will be an organization that will fetch reasonable profit to the organic farmers. We termed it ‘Tasmac’ in order to caution the public that synthetically grown products are as dangerous as the products of Tasmac. I am keenly following the footsteps of Nammazhvaar Ayya. But there is a long way further” thus he concluded.
They not only sow the seeds for cultivation but an overwhelming hope towards reviving the pitiful conditions of agriculture in Tamil Nadu and its farmers.
(This article written in Tamil by Durai.Vembaiyaan has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)