Karunakara Sethupathy from Kanakankudi practises natural and traditional farming methods

“People who live around here think I’m out of my senses for growing millets and taking to traditional seeds. But farming through natural methods is what is going to save our soil and environment in the long run,” says Karunakara Sethupathy, a farmer from Kanakankudi near Tiruppavanam.

In his five-and-a-half-acre land, Mr.Sethupathy has planted millets, including ‘Kuthiraivali’, and has plans to start mushroom cultivation too. He was one among the many farmers present at ‘Uzhavanai Thedi’ (In search of the farmer) programme organised on Sunday by ‘Naanal Nanbargal,’ an environmental organisation to honour farmers practising natural and traditional farming methods.

“I have not used any insecticides, pesticides or chemicals on my land. I have four ‘Umbalacherry’ cows which give the land its manure,” said Mr.Sethupathy.

His farmlands, known as ‘Pagalava Pannai Solai’, served as the venue for the event.

Despite vegetables and fruits being grown naturally having found a niche market in cities, the farmers are unable to get their produce reach the customers.

“The vegetables that I grow naturally are of better quality and healthy, yet they command the same price as the other produce in the markets,” rued S. Kasi, a farmer from Thoothukudi.

Members of ‘Naanal Nanbargal’ too said by bringing together the farmers, they hoped to find ways for effective marketing of the natural produce from their lands.

“Small farmers should get together and facilitate interaction among the community. Thus, they can identify their target consumers. People are beginning to realise the benefits of natural produce which will fetch the farmers good returns,” said C. Vanarajkumar, an agricultural engineer.

While farmers, who feared low yield, were hesitant to take to farming without chemicals, Mr.Vanarajkumar said if awareness was created, it could be changed.

“In the long run, growing a variety of crop using natural fertilizer is what will benefit the land and give good yield. There might be an initial struggle to adapt to the natural method but the farmers are sure to see long-term gains with increasing awareness among consumers about natural produce,” he added.

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