Programme in collaboration with Nammalvar Multiversity at the Bhoomi Farmers’ Centre, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu
Bhoomi Network in association with Nammalvar Multiversity organized a two day workshop on Soil, Science & Life on May 7th & 8th at the Bhoomi Farmers’ Centre at Tiruvannamalai. It was attended by 50 participants
On the first day, Shri. Sultan Ahmed Ismail (Teacher, Ecologist, Member of State Planning Commission, Government of Tamil Nadu) spoke about Soil Biology. He covered various topics like living soil & its importance, relation of soil to health, soil & self-reliance, policies governing soil and the politics behind it. He spoke at length about top soil.
In the evening, participants were taken on a tour around the farm. It gave them an insight on the efforts taken by Bhoomi team to transform 80 acres of degraded dryland through its focus on water conservation and soil improvement. Participants were interested to know that for biomass usage nothing is purchased from outside and the farm relies solely on plants grown inside and how we give back things to the soil. Participants also had a glimpse of the relationship between livestock and soil.
On the second day, there were two speakers – Shri. Baskar Arumugam & Shri. Kumar from Marudham. Kumar, a farmer who converted from chemical intensive to organic farming after his meeting with Nammalvar in the 90’s, shared about his journey as a farmer. Importance of soil economy, Practicality and idealism - the difference, Soil based livelihood were some of the topics covered.
One of the interesting things they shared was how farmers are lured with the word ‘high yield’ and resort to growing hybrid varieties of vegetables wherein they fail to see the soil violence that happens in their own piece of land. As consumers we buy tomatoes that last for 20 days or more while organic Nati tomatoes have a shelf life of about 5 days. The flavour of 1 Nati (country) tomato is equal to 4 Bangalore tomatoes. Yet, we choose to buy vegetables that are doused with chemicals.
During the two days participants were served millet based food and a good dose of raw food in the form of salad and fresh fruits. It was amazing to see that they loved it and felt connected to the soil because of the food they eat. It led to discussions on how we could incorporate this in our everyday lives.
Out of the 50 participants, a significant percentage was from farming background or related to farming in some way. Some of them came with their families.
“This experience during the last two days was the first of its kind for me. It is a lifetime revelation. With this, I have assured myself to implement and practise all the learning I had during the programme”.
- Kannan, a participant from Hosur shares
“Dr.Sultan Ismail's inputs on various fields is an eye opener to all. My thanks to the entire team for their hospitality”.
- T.S.B Sampath, State Resource person of TN Rural livelihood mission shares
“I wish my teachers in school taught me this way. It is so interesting. How easily I can learn everything”.
- Amudhini, a 12 year old who accompanied a participant quipped
For Parthasarathy who heads our Bhoomi farm in Tiruvannamalai it was an extremely fulfilling experience to host a workshop of this nature . We look forward to conducting more such programs, especially for farmers in the region.