Monday, 30 December 2013

Grand farmer Nammalvar no more 

Chennai, December 30: Monday was a black day for scores of  environmentalists and farmers. The death of ‘Iyarkai Vinayani’ Nammalvar(75) came as a shocker at the end of 2013. Well-known for his fight against pesticide farming and multi national seed firms, Nammalvar was the sought after expert in national and international conferences on agriculture. Even on his last day, he participated in the protest in Pattukottai, against the coal bed methane exploration project planned in delta districts.
While several scientists conducted trails on pesticides and hybrid seeds, Nammalvar quit the cushy government job as an agricultural scientist within three years and started his voluntary work in organic farming. He worked with experts like P.R.Dominic Pyre as agronomist and conducted trails in organic farming. His ‘Vanagam’- a voluntary organisation in Karur district, had inspired several IT professionals and young people from various sectors to take up agriculture.
Though I first met Nammalvar for an interview in 2009 as a part of my work, I became his fan and he became my friend. After the first meet, I called him many times not just for interviews but also to share my views and also to widen my knowledge. Whenever I rang him up, he remembered my articles and encouraged me to write more on organic farming. I was gifted with an opportunity to proof read one his books early this year.
I recall his last talk that I observed in a public meet. Here goes: We are proud that India, as a developing nation, exports all consumer goods ranging from car to T-shirts. But we have to think why the importing countries couldnt  produce these goods on their own. These importers want to keep their water sources clean and buy products from us. They protect their environment clean and green and we exploit the same.
Many times he stressed in his speech that we have to get back to agriculture from agribusiness. “You dream for bumper profits in agri business; but in agriculture- you attain good and healthy life for your family, your society and the country. Agriculture is sustainable not agri business,” he said.