PERAMBALUR: For T Nallappan, a computer engineer-turned-organic farmer, cultivating and distributing millet is the most joyful thing. Hailing from Perali village in Perambalur district, the 34-year-old sells his produce across the country.
“Though I do not earn as much as I used to, knowing that I distribute nutritious food is comforting,” he said.
An MCA-graduate, Nallappan worked as a computer engineer in Bengaluru for six years. He said that he used to earn around Rs 12 lakh a year. But as he was more interested in agriculture, he quit his job.
“I have been engaged in farming with my father from childhood. Later, I developed an interest in organic farming, and decided to take the plunge and pursue my dream.”
Following this, he cultivated varieties of millets, including proso, sorghum varieties, foxtail, ragi, barnyard, and kodo millet on his three acres using organic farming methods. He also cultivates pulses as a weed crop.
Nallappan said he learnt organic farming through Nammalvar method. Now, his family cooks their own produce. “I did not expect much income from farming. My goal is to promote nutritious grains and get everyone back to organic farming,” he added. Speaking to Express, Nallappan said: “About 15 years ago, only millets were produced in the district. But over time, we switched to cash-crop cultivation using chemicals, which destroyed soil fertility. So, the district’s produce is not native as it contains artificial intervention.”
He said that growing millets satisfies food requirements and also feeds the cattle. Millets are drought resistant. Apart from having these qualities, these grains have high nutritional value, which can solve the malnutrition issues plaguing the country. “We won’t have to depend on any seed or chemical company to grow these,” he added.
He said that he is happy that the government is promoting millets. “But they haven’t included Perambalur district in the millet movement. The government should take steps to rectify this and promote millet cultivation,” he said.
“Currently, many farmers in the district have come forward to cultivate the crop. But there is no infrastructure here to turn the grain into flour. So, we are forced to go to other districts to grind them. If the government could improve the infrastructure, millet cultivation will increase, enabling people to make it a staple in their diet,” he said.