A group of 16 farmhands in the age group of 25-30 have joined together to form a service society, to help small and marginal farmers in the district to migrate to farm mechanization operations in a big way.
Branding themselves the ‘Pasumai Velaanmai Endramayamaakkal Sangam’ (Green Farm Mechanization Society), these new generation agriculturalists attempt to extend affordable doorstep services to farmers to overcome challenges of shortage of labour and spiraling input cost.
The society received Rs 15 lakh worth of free machinery that comprised four units each of power tillers, power weeders and paddy transplanters from Collector Sankar as part of the National Agricultural Development Programme last week. They have already undergone necessary training for a period of six months from the Department of Agricultural Engineering here to handle and maintain these machines.
M S Inbanathan, executive engineer of the Agricultural Engineering Department said four sub-groups would be formed among the 16 members, to focus on the paddy belts of Wallajah, Arakkonam, Gudiyattam and Vellore in the district. To begin with, the teams would undertake contract farming in paddy cultivation at an affordable cost to help the small and marginal farmers who are uncertain of continuing farming. Besides society members would also help maintain the machinery owned by the farmers, cleaning drip irrigation systems and service electric motors during the non-cultivation period, he added.
S Srinivasan, president of the society said, “We are planning to organize a public awareness campaign in villages to instil hope in the minds of the small and marginal farmers to go in for mechanization as an alternate means of reviving agriculture.” The society would help them prepare land, get quality seeds, raise nurseries and transplant them using the machineries on contract basis so that farmers are relieved from this burden, he added. During the off season, “We would focus on cultivating vegetables, millets and pulses,” his colleague Naveen, secretary of the society said.
They said the Agriculture Engineering Department had already distributed over 1,200 power tillers, 600 mini-tractors, 800 power weeders to farmers under various schemes. An estimated 5,000 tractors were also in use in the district by the farmers and others. The department of cooperatives had also distributed similar number of machines to the farmers.
“These machines require regular maintenance and there is a huge opportunity for us to extend our service ,” said noted Srinivasan adding that they would hold service camps for the farm machines periodically. The society is also trying to obtain a bank loan to buy a mini truck to use it as a mobile service facility besides transporting the machines owned by them to different locations.