Nearly 1,000 women farmers from Southern districts of Tamil Nadu converged in Madurai for a two-day conference to discuss about eco-friendly and collective farming techniques.

“We encourage women farmers to opt for diverse farming, where at least 35 varieties of crops could be cultivated in one acre of land. Our prime objective is to ensure safe food through adoption of natural methods and encourage growing of millet in dry land”, said Sheelu, president of Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective, based in Chennai and an organiser of the event.

At the conference organised by Women’s Collective and ‘Kalanjiyam Women Farmers Association’, as many as 22 resolutions were passed.

“Though a large number of women are actively involved in agricultural activities, no proper recognition has been given to them.

The women agriculturalists should be provided with farmer’s identification card’, said S. Ponnuthayee, one of the members of Women’s Collective from Tirunelveli. According to Ponnuthayee, collective farming technique has been tried in Tirunelveli district and has produced good result.

L. Balamani, a farmer from Nilgiris district said most of the vegetables cultivated in the district are exposed to chemicals. “After attending the conference I am aware of the availability of a wide range of alternative natural fertilisers and pesticides. Now I know that the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers amounts to slow poisoning, I am planning to adopt eco friendly and natural farming methods in future”, she added.

The farmers also expressed their grievance on the skyrocketing price of seeds and fertilisers. “The government should announce special incentives to help farmers instead of helping the fertiliser firms. Aged farmers should be given pension”, read the resolutions passed in the conference.

The farmers also urged the government to introduce sale of millets in Public Distribution System. “The government should also consider providing healthy alternatives like millets to school students under the noon meal scheme”, said A. Paunthai, a farmer from Usilampatti in Madurai district.

The members insisted that uninterrupted power supply should be provided to farmers.

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