Returning to agricultural roots in the evening of his life

2 years ago Ramaiah gave up agro-chemicals and has not looked back ever since

Returning to agricultural roots in the evening of his life

A role model:  Farmer Buddannolla  Ramaiah. DH Photo

After witnessing the ravage that chemical-based farming can wreak on agriculture, Ramaiah who engaged in it for most of his life, is now a changed man. He has decided to choose a path less trodden. The oldest frmer in Keelaholali village, which comes under Devaraya Samudra Gram Panchayat in Mulbagal taluk, he is also the only farmer in his village to return to organic farming that his ancestores practised.

Around two years back, Ramaiah, frustrated by the damage caused to soil in his farm, decided to bid adieu to chemical fertilisers and pesticides. He reverted to green manure to enrich soil to grow paddy on his two acres of land and has managed to get a good yield.

 “Like any other farmer, I was into farming by chosing the easiest method of cultivating crops, that is, using chemical fertilisers. I was wary of trying any new experiments or any other method of farming, for the fear of losing crops,” Ramaiah told Deccan Herald in his farm which was being treated with organic manure.

But for the last two years who stopped using chemical fertilisers, opting for green manure. Initially he used pongamia leaves to enrich the soil but of late has been cultivating horse gram, ploughing its leaves into the soil.

“This will go a long way in nourishing the soil and also preserving the natural resources of my land. Also, it helps give a better yield of paddy crop,” says a confident Ramaiah.

Horsegram planted in a field at Keelaholali in Mulbagal Taluk being ploughed into the soil as green manure. DH PhotoA challenging task
But, the decision to switch to organic farming from chemical fertiliser was not easy. Motivation came from an NGO, Grama Vikas, which is based in Doddahonnasetthalli village, neighbouring Keelaholali.

“Grama Vikas influenced me in a big way,” says Ramaiah and adds, “Convinced by them, I  decided to go back to the farming of my ancestors.”

The man behind converting Ramaiah to organic farming is Executive Director of Grama Vikas, M V N Rao has for the last several years been creating awareness on land fertility and water conservation among the rural people. Grama Vikas helped Ramaiah construct a farm pond in his land, which stored rain water and helped Ramaiah to grow paddy.
Ramaiah’s seven daughter are married and his only son is not interested in continuing agriculture.

Reluctance of farmers
Ramaiah has not thrust his views and opinion on his son and ploughs the fields himself. Through organic farming, he raises two crops a year, with the help of only one worker. Ramaiah laments the reluctance of farmers to give up using pesticides, and gloomily predicts that the toxic chemicals will damage the fields and the yield would reach a plateau and then start declining inexorably. By the time, the farmers realise this truth it will be very late, he says with fatalism.

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