TIRUCHY: In a way of leading by example, the Agriculture Department has harvested two traditional rice varieties on its sprawling five-acre seed farm in Neikuppai Pudhur village in Lalgudi Block with an average output of 2.2 tonnes per acre -- completely through organic methods. The seeds would be distributed to farmers to promote organic farming.
Though paddy cultivation has been on the rise for the past three consecutive years, the area under traditional cultivation through organic farming continues to decline. This year, the acreage has dropped below two per cent of the overall paddy cultivation for the season. In addition to its efforts of improving the numbers by organising awareness campaigns, distributing seeds at subsidised rates, etc., the Agriculture Department took up the task of cultivating traditional varieties in its own campus and reaped success. It opted Kichadi samba and Thuyamalli and raised them on five acres in Neikuppai Pudhur village during the Samba season.
Speaking to TNIE, Murugesan, Joint Director of Agriculture Department said, "Following government orders to promote organic farming, we undertook the traditional paddy seed cultivation on five-acre land at the seed farm in Neikuppaipudhur village through organic methods. We got an average of 2.2 tonnes of yield, which is higher than cultivated through conventional method. After the Certification Department process the seeds, it would be distributed to farmers to be sown in the next samba season." He added that 10 acres has been adopted for traditional paddy cultivation in the coming season.
Vadivel, agriculture official in-charge of the seed farm, mentioned that the organic method was more cost-effective and highly productive. "In conventional method, you have to spend an average of `25,000 an acre to get at least two tonnes of the yield. But through organic method, 1.75 tonnes to 2.2 tonnes can be obtained," he said, and added that they took a cue from activist 'Nel Jayaraman'.
The seed farm has been serving as a model for traditional organic farming with farmers from various villages visiting the place to learn about the methods, get technical advise, and seeds.
After his visit to the seed farm, S Rajagopal, a farmer from Peruvappu village in Lalgudi, said, "It is a great joy to see crops cultivated with minimum cost and less efforts. The yield too is notably higher using this method. I have decided to take up traditional cultivation through organic methods."
Talking about the organic method, Vadivel said that before ploughing process green manure seeds are used to enrich the soil. Fertilisers such as Panchagavya, Meen Amilam and Neem cakes are used. "The soil does not require any other special nutrients for growth. Also, the traditional varieties are best suited for the climate condition," he added.
It is to be noted that Vadivel was awarded a certificate by the district administration in recognition for his efforts in promoting traditional paddy cultivation during Republic Day celebrations. "For the last three months, I turned into a farmer and personally visited the farm daily to manage all the works there," he said.