Peikulam Green Revolution
Peikulam with 174 farmers and almost 700 people had one major problem: dry land. Of a total of 135 hectares, only 40 hectares was under cultivation. Water was scarce and the groundwater table went down to only 7 feet. Agriculture in this part of Tuticorin district mostly depended on rainfall.
Villagers suffered as soil testing wasn’t done properly. There seemed no hope in sight. The arrival of SST, though, ensured that soil testing was done twice a year and reports issued promptly to farmers. They even set up a customer service centre, says Murugesan, a farmer and key member of the village group.
Murugesan has 30 acres of land and SST arranged a loan for Rs. 10 lakh to buy agricultural machinery. He has increased his cultivable area to 30 acres from four. With the help of drip irrigation, he grows groundnut, banana, whole green gram dal and white pumpkin.
Meanwhile, farmer Thiyagaraj has planted white pumpkin and drumsticks side by side and has installed drip irrigation. ‘’Drip irrigation is clearly helping us make profits,’’ says Thiyagaraj. I now plan to buy more land and plant coconut trees, he adds.
With SST’s initiatives and guidance, villagers say they have made progress in water conservation and management of dry land. Not surprisingly, the whole farming community here is enthusiastic. ‘’Everyone here is like one family,’’ said Murugesan.
The SST Way
Community Development Officer T. Kumanan and agronomist E. Sivaprasadh Mishra who worked to bring about this green revolution miracle in Peikulam
With just 40 hectares of land under cultivation, we knew we had a tough challenge on our hands. Using limited water resources from sources such as wells, only 27 out of 132 families practised agriculture. Over the past five years, many in the village became disillusioned and migrated elsewhere to make a living.
We decided to help farmers access government subsidy for drip irrigation and installing sprinklers. We also educated farmers about reducing costs by using organic manure in place of expensive inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. It takes almost three years to make land completely inorganic.
There is now greater awareness of the benefits of using farm machinery and equipment. For instance, we helped Murugesan secure a loan to buy two tractors. He has paid off that amount in a year. Thiyagaraj is also using pumpsets. They are model farmers who are showing the way to others.
We also demonstrated what an agriculture club can achieve. We started one in the nearby village of Lakshmipuram in 2008 and took five farmers from Peikulam. Their success instilled trust and inspired confidence. Today, there are two farmers clubs with 40 members that meet twice a week. What’s more, they have formed a 300-member strong Groundnut Farmers Federation to fetch better rates for their produce.
Persistence is key as it took six months to get the Agriculture Department to offer support to farmers in Peikulam.
A lot of patience is key to building trust.
Forming a group, such as the Farmers Club, helps establish trust.