“The last 10 years saw two remarkable developments in the country.

One, the emergence and growth of the IT sector and, two, the number of farmers' suicides,” says Mr. J.H.S. Ponnaya, President, Suviseshapuram and neighbouring development organisation (Sands), Tirunelveli.

“In spite of the claim that rural India shines in prosperity, several villages today continue to suffer from power cuts, drought, lack of proper sanitation facilities, absence of medical centres and schools,” he says.

A visit to Mangulam, a small village situated about 45 kms from Tirunelveli town shows how true it is that villages are ignored.

No bus facility

There is practically no government bus service to the place.

Schools, medical and sanitation facilities just don't seem to exist there. In case of emergency, farmers need to travel about 20 km to a neighbouring small town called Thisayanvilai. The men work as farm labourers and women spend their noon time rolling beedis.

Debt ridden

Till some years back almost all the residents of the village carried thousands of rupees as debt to the retail fertilizer shops in the town.

“Monsoon failure and yield loss made repayment difficult, and increased the interest rate for repayment. If we do not repay in one year, the amount doubles in the ensuing year. For raising even small crops such as chillies or tomatoes, we require the favourable disposition of the shop owner to offer credit,” says Mr. M.D. Annadurai, a farmer.

Mr. J.P. Samraj, Director, Sands says:

“Since our organisation works for the upliftment of rural people we selected Mangulam and some more small villages as part of a project.

“Being a major agriculture belt, we thought that if an alternative to costly fertilizers could be found, it would greatly help these small farmers and prevent them from getting into more debts. Initially, we trained about 1,000 farmers to make their own enriched farm yard manure (EFYM) and supplied the necessary inputs.”

Making the manure

The manure is made from mixing one cart of cow dung, 5 kg of super phosphate, potash and urea each, one quarter bag of field soil (soil taken from the field) and a handful of calcium mixed well, and shade dried for 15 days and used.

“One cartload of this manure is sufficient for an acre and farmers started making their own inputs.

In due course many of them started saving some money as they did not buy fertilizers from the local shop,” explains Mr. Samraj.

Farmers in Kazhuvoor, Eranthai, Vijayanarayanam and Vijayaachambadu villages in Nanguneri taluk and Perunkannankulam and Vadivammanpatti villages in Radhapuram taluk have been using this manure for more than a year.

Says Mrs. Ranjitha Packiyam, a farmer from Kazhuvoor:

“I used this enriched manure for my paddy crops in an acre and found it helps good growth.

Previously I spent more than Rs. 1,500 for buying the inputs. But today, after I started making my own manure I am able to save nearly Rs.1,000.”

Another farmer Mr. T. Suyambu Rajan from Vijayanarayanam village says: “I applied this manure to my three acre plantain crops, and find that the crops are growing well.”

Less expense

“When farmers say they are able to save some money, we are happy that this method is helping them. Our country's agriculture is going through a critical phase today.

A cure for this can be surely found if both media and society become more sensitive to the farmers' problems and take a proactive stand on the issue,” says Mr. Ponnaya.

For more information and personal visits readers can contact Mr. Mr. J. P. Samraj, Director, Sands, Suviseshapuram (via) Ittamozhi-627652, email: sands_suviseshapuram@yahoo.com, phone: 04637-278173, mobile: 9659318609.