Chennai: At a time when the agricultural yields are declining, owing to the increase in farmer suicide cases, a 70-year-old farmer from Ponneri has a success story to share. Meet E. Devaraj from the Sinnakavanam village of Ponneri in Tiruvallur district, who has embraced solar energy to cultivate sugar-free rice.
The organic way of farming has not just reduced his dependence on electricity, but also enhanced the productivity. Devaraj who has been in the eco-friendly style for the last 5 years told Decan Chronicle that it is a way to sensitise many farmers into it.
He has purchased solar panels from the agriculture department at the cost of Rs 3 lakh, for which the government pays a subsidy of Rs 2 lakh.
The farmer, in his 3.5-acre field in the village, produces two varieties of rice – Karuppu Kavuni and NR9 sourced from Gujarat and Thanjavur.
“I bought 10 kilos of NR 9 variety for Rs 1,200. People warned me that the variety would not sustain due to the change in the weather conditions. But I tried,” he recollected.
The yield has been threefold. It was the same with the Karuppu Kavuni rice, which is predominantly used as gruel. “ I bought 36 kg of Karuppu Kavuni variety. The yield was a total of 925 kg,” the farmer said, with a pride in his voice.
His cultivation involves zero use of artificial fertilisers. Devaraj prepares his own fertilisers through a paste of ginger, garlic and green chillies. “Before sowing the seeds, I soak the seeds in the leaves of neem, ground nut and cow dung. During the period of cultivation, I spray natural fertilisers,” he explained.
Devaraj sells his yield directly to the public, as a co-operative society is more than 30 km away. “But there is a need for a cooperative society in our village, for those who want to sell it here,” he opined. So how did he go eco-friendly? He attributes the reason to Rafidullah, a Minjur agricultural department official, and Nammalvar’s follower Sundaraman for showing the path.
Devaraj is well known among his customers not just for selling the rice at a minimal price, but also for distributing the saplings of Costus igneous ( a medicinal plant that treats insulin) with the rice bags....