The six-acre plot in Jangalahalli village near Bommidi in Pappireddipatti taluk belongs to farmer J Arun, whom everyone in the village knows, as he is the only one who tries his hand at organic farming. During a visit to his farm, Arun requested this reporter to write down his date of birth in a notebook. Bemused, he was asked whether he was a farmer or an astrologer. Arun replied, “A farmer is more concerned about the climate than an astrologer.” Arun then went on to explain, “I will plant a sapling every year on your birthday. That is why I asked you to write down your date of birth.”
Arun not only plants saplings on his friends’ and relatives’ birthdays but also on birthdays of well-known personalities from all over the world. “This tree was planted on Karl Marx’s birthday and this one on organic farming guru Nammalvar’s,” he says, pointing out to saplings.
Arun has planted more than 500 saplings of 56 varieties including palmyra, east Indian walnut (vaagai), red sanders (vengai), wood apple (vilva), mahogany, among others, using only one acre of his land as of now. “Even though we are farmers for generations, I did commit a few mistakes that resulted in loss,” he said. However, life changed when he met Nammalvar. “He opened my eyes. I started integrated farming by dividing the six-acre land for different purposes -- one acre for trees, one acre for flowers and the remaining for crops like millet and paddy,” he explained.
Arun insists that integrated farming is a risk-free business. “A farmer will never incur loss in integrated farming. Also, apart from monetary gain, integrated farming can offer peace of mind that neither an MNC nor a government job can provide. Moreover, integrated farming requires one to be creative,” he added. Arun cultivated ‘Michelia champaca’ (sampangi) on forty cents of land. “Vendors are paying `100 per kg for Sampangi. On an average, I sell 20 kg a day,” he informs.
Arun also tries the the micro-irrigation method for farming. In a district that reels under severe water scarcity, this proves to be more sensible. Arun feels that the agricultural department should popularise micro-irrigation in a district like Dharmapuri.
Highlighting the positives of organic farming, Arun says, to ensure profit, a farmer should not buy anything apart from seeds. Rather he should produce fertilisers or pesticides from farm wastes.
He also advised farmers to grow naturally available pesticides for getting healthy crops.