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India's 2nd Green Revolution in the offing
Shobha Warrier in Chennai | September 04, 2006
R Madhavan was an engineer working for the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation till 1994. It was his passion for farming and rural life that prompted him to resign his job as an engineer and invest all his savings in farming.
"The passion towards agriculture was my courage. I saw people from rural India migrating to the urban areas. So, I wanted to do something to improve their economy." So, in Chengalpet, he bought a few acres of land and started cultivating corn.
In those days, there was not even a telephone connection in the village. That was when S S Rajsekhar of National Agro Foundation helped him out by giving him the first Internet connection in the village using the Wireless in Local Loop technology.
"It was through the Internet that I communicated with experts on farming. The major help I received from NAF was through their soil testing lab. My farm experiences were duplicated by many farmers. The entire village saw how I changed the area."
Madhavan's became the first demo farm of NAF.
What is the National Agro Foundation?
The National Agro Foundation is the brain child of the father of India's first Green Revolution - late C Subramanyam, a Bharat Ratna recipient. He founded NAF, on his 90th birthday, in 2000, as a public charitable trust. When C Subramanyam realised that thousands and thousands of farmers in India are suffering with little or no irrigation facilities, he felt it was time to think of a Second Green Revolution.
C Subramanyam shared his vision with Dr A P J Abdul Kalam who was then the chairman of the Technology Information, Forecasting & Assessment Council and the principal scientific advisor to the Government of India.
Kalam provided soil testing and food testing equipment to NAF through TIFAC. When CS died in 2000, Kalam succeeded him as the chairman of the NAF governing council, a post he held till he became the President of India.
"If seed to grain was the motto of the first Green Revolution, soil to market is the motto of the second Green Revolution. C Subramanyam's vision was to eliminate poverty and ensure improved livelihood of the marginal farmers of India.
"NAF was envisioned by C Subramanyam as an institution not only to facilitate rural development in select village clusters in Tamil Nadu but also as a replicable model suitable for implementation in other states of India," S S Rajsekhar, the managing trustee of NAF and the son of late C Subramanyam, said.
Aim of the foundation
C Subramanyam wanted the income of the farmers to increase to Rs 50,000 per annum from Rs 10,000. He also wanted to create a model, which can be replicated in the rest of the country. To develop rural India, he said agriculture, cattle and social development are necessary.
NAF has projects in 47 model villages in Tamil Nadu (27 in the Kancheepuram district and 20 in the Thiruvallur district) comprising of 13000 families.
As a part of the Agricultural Development Programme, farm practices are upgraded, soil testing is done for soil nutrients and crop choice, and water and farm management are taught to the farmers.
The result: 450 demonstration farms growing paddy, maize, sugarcane, groundnut, vegetables, pulses, fruits and flowers. Because of the programs of NAF, Rajsekhar says the yield of maize has increased by 150 per cent, watermelon by 116 per cent, groundnut by113 per cent, paddy by 55 per cent and sugarcane by 40 per cent.
Under the program, Cattle Development, artificial insemination and veterinary support services are provided to the rural folk. Because of artificial insemination on 5,400 animals, yield has increased by 300 per cent.
Literacy programs, self help income generation initiatives come under 'Social Development'. Some 3,600 students have completed literacy training under the scheme, 260 self help groups have been formed with 4000 members and around 100 persons have benefited through income generating projects.
C Subramanyam's dream was to have a "healthy, literate and prosperous rural India through the Second Green Revolution."
Take the case of R Madhavan too. In place of 560 kilos of corn, today, he produces more than two tonnes from his farmland. He has also been using crop rotation to improve the yield. "My plan is to make value added products from the corn, like chicken feed. I can sell it to poultry farms in the village at lower cost; that way the poultry farmers will also benefit," Madhavan talked of his plans.
So impressed was the President of India, that he commented, "We need not one Madhavan, but millions of Madhavans."
"I keep on getting messages from the President through Rajsekhar. He still fondly remembers his stay with me in my farm on June 7 in 2001. At that time, he was the principal scientific advisor. He was curious to know how I, an engineer got interested in farming," Madhavan remembers.On Monday, when the President visits Chennai, he will meet 12 farmers who have benefited from the National Agro Foundation. "It will be a big day for all the farmers and NAF," said Rajsekhar.