KARAIKAL: M Baskar (43), an organic farmer from Melakasakudi in Karaikal district, is cultivating 111 varieties of traditional paddy on 15 acres.
Baskar said, “I have travelled to places like Thanjavur, Vriddachalam Puducherry, Cuddalore and Thiruthuraippondi and bought traditional paddy seeds from farmers. I have nursed 113 of them and am now going to transplant 111 of them on my 15 acres. My objective is to increase the popularity of organically cultivated traditional paddy varieties among Karaikal farmers.”
Traditional paddy varieties Baskar is planning to transplant include Kaatuponni, Manjalponni, Kandasaali, Kaivarai Samba, Vaadan Samba, Vaalan Samba and Vaasanai Seeraga Samba.
“All my nursed crops except two have come up well in the nursery stage. I am expecting a good harvest after transplanting them. The main challenge I am facing is irrigation although most of the traditional seeds I cultivate are drought-resistant,” said Baskar, who is transplanting in a year which has seen more
farmers migrate to direct sowing due to lack of water.
Baskar has also leased another 15 acres and cultivated a few traditional paddy seeds like Karuppi Kavuni, Kaatu Yaanam, Thooya Malli and Thanga Samba using the direct sowing method. A B.Com graduate from Annamalai University, he is married with two children. He resides in Melakasakudi of Nedungadu commune and cultivates in Varichikudi of Kottucherry commune. He has been into agriculture for the past 24 years and been an organic farmer for the past 12 years.
Baskar thanked the district administration for encouraging him and his idea of popularising traditional varieties of paddy. The district administration is conducting awareness programmes this week and is trying to take his ideas forward.
The agriculture department in Karaikal is planning to highlight Baskar as an example and create an inclusive group of organic farmers called ‘Organic Karaikal’.
Additional Director (in charge), Agriculture department, Karaikal, J Senthil Kumar, said, “The main concern for those cultivating traditional paddy varieties is finding a market after harvest. We need to do ‘market tapping’ and identify the demand for traditional paddy varieties. We would also encourage farmers to produce and market value-added products out of traditional paddy, like rice instead of directly marketing paddy.”