NAGAPATTINAM: A 67-year-old retired teacher turned farmer from Thalaignayiru is winning praise for his agricultural inputs, cultivating organically and farming in an integrated manner in the challenging terrain of Thalaignayiru.
It has been eight years since V Kalidoss retired as a schoolteacher from Sadayankottagam in Thalaignayiru block. He bought some Prosopis fields in Maaracheri village of the same block, removed invasive growths and has been farming traditional crops organically. The self-sustainable techniques he uses has caught the eye of other farmers and officials. "I have been using farm ponds for cultivation, harvest the rainwater and apply them as the groundwater is saline. I also use organic inputs for cultivation. The profits I expect may not be high, but I will promote and provide other farmers with the outputs I get," said Kalidoss.
He has cultivated three acres of traditional crops such as Arupatham Kuruivai, Poongar and Kullakaar, which grow in 90 days. "I make my organic manure and insect repellent from my pond water resources, my cattle and field soil. I was inspired by organic farmers named M Mohamed, Sultan and Arunajadesan. The traditional crops I grow have now allowed me to transfer ideas to others," he said. Kalidoss prepares organic manure called Jeevamirtham, made from cow dung, cow urine, bananas, jaggery and the soil from his fields.
The farmer has let freshwater bass (Koduva meen) into his farm pond and is breeding them, making for integrated farming. He says the invasive suckermouth catfish have also landed in his farm ponds, for which there is no commercial use and feed on excreta. He takes tank cleaner fish which lie at the bottom during draining, cuts them into pieces, adds jaggery to the flesh, preserves it for few days and makes 'fish acid' out of them. He applies the fish acid to his crops to drive out insects and pests.
Speaking to TNIE, Joint Director of Agriculture S Panneerselvam said, "Such attempts by farmers should be highly encouraged. We have advised Kalidoss to apply for the State government motivation prize for organic farming."