Sci-Tech » Agriculture

Updated: March 4, 2010 16:54 IST

Scientists must collaborate with cultivators for better results

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MOUNTING CHALLENGES: Mr. Nagarajan, Lalgudi, in his lime farm. Photo: M.J. Prabu
MOUNTING CHALLENGES: Mr. Nagarajan, Lalgudi, in his lime farm. Photo: M.J. Prabu

‘What is the use of a seed which germinates but does not reproduce'

“If there is a profession in which losses are tolerated, it is only agriculture. Once a farmer, always a farmer. He finds it difficult to change professions. Even if he does, it may be for short time and he comes back to it,” says Mr. P. Nagarajan, of Lalgudi, Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu.

Mr. Nagarajan grows lime in 2 acres and in the remaining 7 acres he is cultivating paddy and some banana crops.

Annual income

“I get nearly a lakh of rupees from my lime garden a year,” he says, and adds, “I use only locally available plant and animal wastes to make my own bio pest repellents. Personally I am able to save more than 70 per cent of expense on inputs for growing my crops."

The farmer plucks, grades and markets the fruits for a nearby market every morning. Today when the world is talking about climate change and rising temperature, a farmer's role becomes important in containing the rising temperature.

Easy steps

“Digging a few fish ponds, planting some trees along the field bunds are some easy and proven steps to reduce the temperature.

“In addition, these give additional revenue to a farmer. If every farmer in our country does this then up you can imagine how the temperature rise can be contained” he reasons.

Nothing goes waste in his fields. All the dried leaves, twigs, fallen branches are left untouched and over time they disappear into the soil enriching it. “Farming cannot be done against nature. It has to be with nature, a true farmer understands this well,” he says.

More exposure

“Today we are exposed to the benefits of the natural system of farming and are aware of the harmful effects of chemicals used to grow crops, and try our best to minimise or stop using chemicals. In fact, for those who say that organic methods cannot guarantee a good yield, I request them to visit my farm and see for themselves,” he says.

What is his opinion on Bt varieties which have been in the news recently?

“The role of science in increasing crop production by inventing and introducing several new varieties, tackling infestations etc cannot be overemphasised. But in the name of science and discovery, today we are forced to accept certain varieties. What is surprising is why are we not consulted in the beginning?” he asks. Increasing production and food security is just not possible only with scientists and researchers alone.

Farmers and fields are the basic requirements for testing and recording the feedback of any new variety. Seeds by nature must be able to reproduce.

A single grain of paddy or wheat or any crop must give rise to of plenty of seeds of the same variety. The seeds are collected and used for future use.

Cannot be reused

“This has been ourpractice from time immemorial. But today we understand that Bt seeds can only be sown and their seeds cannot be reproduced. It is sterility according to me. “What is the use of a seed which can only germinate but not result in reproduction?” he questions.

The farmer says: “Today crores of rupees are being spent in the name of agricultural research in India. But problems are rampant among farmers regarding marketing and increasing input prices.

“Even after 60 years, problems in agriculture have not been solved. This is because the Government is not sensitized to our problems. They do not know what type of problems we face and how to tackle them.”

No proven data

Though Bt is claimed as a next step in scientific advancements to increase crop productivity, absence of proven data or field trials makes it difficult for farmers to accept it, according to Mr. Nagarajan.

“In many instances scientists have taken our guidance and ideas for a particular problem or pest infestation. In Delta districts today about 50 seed companies disturb us at regular intervals to use their new seeds.

“And seeds don't come cheap or free, for a kg of seed we spend about Rs1,500. Once sown and harvested we have to buy the seeds from the company again for a higher price as we cannot gather or use the seeds from the new varieties.

“Till now no Government ever attempted to study a farmer's livelihood. But we continue our work against many challenges, because for many of us our fields are our Taj Mahal, a symbol of love, and we are prepared to safeguard and fight to protect ourselves from commercial exploitation,” he emphasises.

For more information readers can contact Mr. Nagarajan, double street, Ariyur post, Lalgudi, Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu, phone: 0431-2625132.