Even as farmers in India unable to cope with debt caused by drought are committing suicide, Naveen Krishnan, a farmer near Trichy in Tamil Nadu, has stepped out to find a solution, by bringing water to his water-starved farm. “I grew up seeing my father nurture crops and take care of cattle. I always wanted to be a farmer,” he says. He was one among the five farmers recently honoured by these two clubs.
An M Phil in Biotechnology helped him in his research to come up with solutions to agri-related problems in his village. “Research is the most important part of growth. I was lucky my father understood that and supported me,” he quips.
As a child he “grew cactus plants, kept pet dogs, cats and ducks and watched his father work in the farm,” but had to wait until he completed college to get his hands dirty in the field as a farmer. He recalls that it was not easy as the region was hit by drought for five years from 2006, when he decided to irrigate his farm. The initial idea of channelling water from the Cauvery River, which is 14 km near his farm, required hard labour and big money. “Our only hope was to dig bore wells.” Ten wells across 70 acres and a pumping system that channelled the water to a tank in the dry parts of the field turned out to be a model for dry land development and irrigation. There was no looking back from then for this smart farmer.
He and his father now run the Global Nature Foundation that sponsors deserving agriculture students to complete their research. The Foundation also carries out snake rescue missions. “Not just students but also people who need a break from hectic city life come here to do a little farming and enjoy rural life,” says Krishnan. He is very pleased with Rotary’s initiative to recognise farmers like him. “We never get any appreciation although we are the country’s support system. I wish we get more awards like these,” he adds.
The busy farmer
When I called Dharmarajan, another farmer who was honoured by the two Clubs, he said, “No Madam, I have no time to talk. I am at the airport to export my Jasmine flowers. You see it is season time.” An English Literature graduate, this farmer has PG and PhD students working in his jasmine fields and their research is really helpful to him in increasing the yield from his farm. Before he hangs up he apologises for not being able to talk more and is happy about the award Rotary has bestowed on him.
Another farmer, R Periaswamy from Paachur village, is all excitement as he says, “I never thought that using only organic pesticide and manure could land me an award. I wish more people come to know about our work and recognise us.” He hopes to put his M Phil degree in Tamil to use by finding a teaching job in the local colleges.
President of RC Trichy Fort A Alagappan says that his club wants to do more programmes highlighting the work of these farmers who are role models of hope and research. “All the farmers who were recognised scientifically analysed their problems and found solutions.” The club plans to help farmers with further research and prevent food wastage by sensitising them on this aspect.