In the last five years the group has supplied 60 tonnes of paddy seeds
At a time when farmers are heavily depending on State owned seed corporations and private seed companies for their seed needs every cropping season, a group of organic farmers in Nallangalpatti village in Tamil Nadu is engaged in a silent revolution to completely reverse the situation through collective action.
They are not only involved in producing their own seeds and exchanging it among themselves, but also supplying the seeds to Government owned seed farms.
Thus, they have proved once again that farmers are the masters in taking all characteristics and aspects in mind for developing quality seeds, multiplying them and saving them for reuse.
Nallathangalpattti is a small village of Puliyur Panchayat of Kulathur taluk in Pudukkottai District and has around 70 farm families. This village has been one among the target villages of Kudumbam, an NGO working with resource-poor farmers in establishing sustainable agriculture alternatives in Pudukkottai District.
Over the years, Kudumbam organised a mixture of capacity building programmes like village awareness creation meetings, on-field demonstrations of bio input preparation and facilitating farmers’ field schools for the farmers’ group of this village.
The process of participatory learning and sharing methods had motivated and acclimatized them to organic farming methods. Paddy has been the predominant crop for this village under irrigated condition.
Vegetables, black gram and groundnut are also grown. Under rain fed condition groundnut, red gram, varagu, and cowpea are grown.
During 2003, Kudumbam initiated steps to introduce SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method in this village. Since, it was a new technology at that time, it approached one of the experienced organic farmers’ groups in that village and discussed with the farmers whether they would be interested in experimenting with SRI.
The Organic Farmers Group (Iyarkkai Vivasaayegal Kuzhu) came forward and expressed its interest in experimenting with SRI method of paddy cultivation.
Though, the farmers’ group had long experience in organic farming methods, initially the farmers were a little reluctant in experimenting with a technology like SRI. Hence, the farmers’ group decided to experiment involving two farmers.
In the same period of time, the State initiated steps to popularise SRI method in paddy cultivation.
“The major difference between the Nallathangalpattti farmers’ group and the State sponsored SRI programme was that the latter’s focus has been SRI with application of chemicals while the Nallathangalpattti farmers confined SRI to organic methods,” says K. Suresh Kanna, deputy director of the NGO.
Since the two farmers’ fields were already practicing organic farming, with the application of the SRI method they have increased their yield from 22 bags/acre to 32 bags/acre.
Thus, the increased yield motivated them to continue organic SRI method in the following season along with another 5 farmers from their group.
The successful organic SRI paddy cultivation by this farmers’ group has attracted many outside visitors to their paddy fields including many local, state and central agriculture officials who appreciated their work.
After seeing the cultivation methods and better grain quality, the local agriculture officers suggested the farmers to sell the seeds to the Government seed farm at Kudumiyanmalai as it would help fetch better income. The officials also helped the farmers enter into an agreement with the seed farm.
All the registered farmers are supplied with seeds from the farm. The district seed certifying officer also makes periodical visits (at least 3 visits) during the cropping season and offers his technical advice to the farmers. Thus, the linkages have started from 2007 and the farmers started to cultivate paddy exclusively for seed promotion purpose.
“When we sell our paddy as seed we are able to get more — between Rs.350 and Rs.400 per bag, says Mr. Govindaraj, the leader of the farmers’ group.
“Hence, the price for the 10kgs is extra gain for us, if we sell it as seeds,” says Dharmaraj, another farmer of the group.
“As we are informed by the State Seed Farm well in advance about the type of paddy seeds and the quantity required, we are able to supply the required quantity according to their needs without any problem,” says Mr. Govindaraj.
The success in paddy has motivated them to involve in seed production for other crops like black gram and groundnut. During the last five years, the farmers’ group has supplied around 60 tonnes of Ponni paddy, 80 tonnes of ATD paddy variety and one ton of groundnut seeds.
For more details readers can contact Mr. Govindaraj, Nallathangalpatti village,
Puliyur Post, Kulathur Taluk, Pudukkottai District, Mobile: 98436-84992