Many farmers' children do not want to continue in agriculture

Most professionals may want their children to follow in their footsteps, and take over the practice,

But ask a farmer whether he wants his children to follow him - and the answer will be a firm ‘no.' There are exceptions though: “I want my son to become a farmer and take over after me,” says Mr. N. Aravindan an organic farmer from Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu.

The farmer says that his father often used to remind him that “Agriculture is our life. School and college are only means to improve our knowledge.”

These words inspired him “to stay in agriculture,” he claims.

Post graduate

Mr. Aravindan completed a Masters Degree in Business Administration and is into farming for the last eight years. He says he was inspired by Dr. G. Nammalwar, the organic scientist.

“My tryst in organic farming started from then,” he adds and says he started collecting more information about organic farming from books and interacting with other leading organic practitioners.

Mr. Aravindam also attended numerous training programmes organised by Kudumbam, an organisation for rural development in Tiruchi at their farm called Kolunji Ecological Farm.

“I started applying those principles and gradually converted my land from chemical to organic. Now I am cultivating organic paddy, sugarcane, groundnut, pulses, and millets.

The success behind my farming “is that I am making a crop calendar depending upon the monsoon and climatic condition for various farming activities. I split the land and utilize it according to the soil type and water resource,” explains the farmer.

In addition he uses enriched farmyard manure and cultivates Daincha (green manure) to apply in the field. He uses bio- control agents and herbal decoctions for pest control.

Recycling

“I recycle the sugarcane leaves by converting them to compost and apply this compost to the soil for 70- 90 days. I am able to get a yield of more than 51 tonnes of sugarcane from an acre,” he explains.

He now educates other farmers on the need to control expenses during cultivation, and also produces trichogramma egg parasite cards that are bought by a private company. “We earn about Rs.15,000 per month as income from selling the cards,” he says.

Non-remunerative

“Majority of the people living in my village — Kovil veerakudi depend on agriculture. Inspite of that, the youngsters are no more interested in taking up farming as a profession.

“They see farming as a non-remunerative choice and migrate to nearby urban centres, but do not succeed there as well. Soon they return to the village with a lot of behavioural changes, roaming around lazily in the village,” he rues.

The future of farming remains a question mark according to Mr. Aravindan. But he envisions some positive signs for a bright future for farming.

A youth club in the village for farming, cleaning roads, school premises and health camps, is presently functioning well.

“We set up an organic farmers club in my village and are planning to produce bio-fertilizers such as Azospirillum, Rhizobium, pseudomonas, trichograrnme virudi etc,” he says.

While these are some small initiatives at a higher level “The government should also encourage the youth by supporting them and introducing new schemes for young farmers. They should motivate, recognise, and appreciate the youth to pull them towards agriculture through schemes and training,” he suggests.

No hope

Disillusioned by the future prospects of farming and seeing their parents suffering physically and monetarily, the children are naturally inclined to take up even menial jobs in the city.

"True, this causes a lot of brain-drain and physical labour shortage in the villages but it cannot be helped. Unless they realise a good income from a field, youngsters cannot be expected to enter farming,” says Mrs. J. Pangayavalli, Co- ordinator, Kudumbam.

Feeling proud

‘You must practice agriculture like Aravindan.' - “When I hear these words from other farmers in my village I feel proud to be a farmer. For many parents in the village, I am a role model. As a farmer, I am happy because I am producing foodgrains for my nation and not polluting the environment,” says Mr. Aravindan proudly.

For more information contact Mr. Aravindan at Kovil Veerakudi Andakulam (Post),Kulathur (Taluk),Pudukottai district, TamilNadu. Mobile: 9585770011 and Mrs. J. Pangayavalli at 9842833187.