Role models for the young to stay in farming

S. Vijayalakshmi

Farmers in Puliangudi in Tamil Nadu, though reeling under drought, have been practicing innovative and indigenous farming methods. Gomathinayagam, a farmer has been doyen in propagating Natural Farming and Joint Family System. Gomathinayagam is blessed with 2 sons by name Nallathambi and Jeeva aged 30 and 40. Inspired by their father’s ideals, they have taken up integrated farming in their 8 acres of land.  Of the 8 acres, 4 acres is planted with coconut trees and another 4 by paddy crop.  What is interesting is, they grow traditional paddy variety only, and it fetches Rs. 5 per Kg.  The fodder plant Glyricidia is grown in their field.  Earthworms are naturally propagated in their field.

The family strongly believes that livestock based agriculture will solve many of the present day problems.  “Panchagavya” is prepared by women members of the family in their home itself. The fodder for the animals is grown as intercrops with coconut trees.

Biogas plant is set up at the centre of the system.  With 2 dome sized invisible plants below the ground, they get regular supply of gas and enough manure for their fields.  They cook their food in the biogas stoves – installed in their home.  The slurry they get from 2 biogas plants- 3 cu.m each is sufficient for their fields.

Gomathinayagam’s Integrated Farming System yields 5 outputs viz., manure in the form of slurry, gas for cooking, fodder for cattle, paddy and coconuts for the family, milk for family consumption and also for sale.

Organic farming, is no doubt, labour intensive and time consuming. Unless the entire family is involved in various farming activities, it will not be profitable. As their farming is livestock based, each member has to look after an activity, which keeps them fully engaged.  They start their day at 4.00 AM and work till 4 PM.  Each one looks after their job – feeding the cows, bathing them, feeding the biogas plant, milking the cows – collecting and selling milk, regularly manuring the field, growing fodder crops, maintaining earthworms in the coconut and paddy fields. All these activities keep them fully engaged with no time for gossip, a normal occupation of village community, particularly the youth.

After 4 PM, the family finds time to look after the children’s needs, family needs, chit chat and be happy.  Their father heads the Vivasaya Seva Sangam (Agriculture Service Society) where farmers gather from neighboring villages and discuss their problems and share experience.

Nallathambi and Jeeva are happy with their farming life and do not regret not having an urban life. The values that were instilled by their father on the importance of farming,  has made them stick to the profession. While majority of the farmers prefer white-collar job for their children, Thiru. Gomathinayagam has not only set an example by following an organic way of farming, but also has been an inspiring model for his sons.

Dr. G. S. Vijayalakshmi, Reader, Sri Paramakalyani Center for Environmental Sciences, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Alwarkurichi, 627412, TamilNadu, Tel: 04634 83270, email:

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