Where tourism helps sustain the farm

Is agriculture sustainable in the long run? Priya Vardeesh, a farmer from Kamanur hamlet near Thandikudi of Dindigul district in Tamil Nadu, has been toiling hard for the past six years to find an answer to this query. She is now closer to the belief that this could be possible if agriculture and tourism are brought together.

Her 81-acre farm on the West Palani Hills turns out to be a sensitisation centre in many aspects. Here, people are made to understand the travails of a farmer so that they respect farming.

Incidentally, the food produced and served here is ‘poison-less’, or free of chemicals, Ms. Vardeesh said.

Her participation in community farming in the U.S. helped Ms. Vardeesh become aware of the various methods by which non-toxic food could be produced. Ms. Vardeesh quit a lucrative job in the U.S. to take up ‘cashless’ organic farming in Tamil Nadu. Cashless farming is ‘zero budget farming,’ which does not require an investment on chemical pesticides and fertilizers. She also has the credit of planting 28,000 saplings.

She had reaped a bumper harvest of three tonnes of butter beans last year. The farm also houses Plumeria Eco Trails, a resort where visitors are introduced to healthy food and ethical farming. The resort emphasises that burning calories in farming is more productive than pedalling a stationary bicycle in a gym.

Ms. Vardeesh is now working on expanding farmers’ collective and consumer groups. The farmers’ collective is trained in zero-budget farming and encouraged to produce organic vegetables. Most members are landless as their holdings had been taken away as mortgage for loans.

‘Organic but no premium’

Currently, vegetables are transported in buses. Vegetables from her farm are also sold in the farmers’ market in Madurai under ‘Narpayir,’ a network of farmers.

“We sell organic vegetables at normal prices due to low transportation cost and absence of middlemen or traders,” she said.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 12:55:38 AM |

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