Palakkad: For thousands of farmers in Palakkad and its neighbouring districts, it will be hard to forget the man who gave them the boon of abundance. With the demise of M S Swaminathan on Thursday morning, it seems like they have lost a savant-like figure they have always looked up to.
Most of these farmers never had an occasion to interact with the iconic agricultural scientist. Yet they are aware that the man, admired globally for his contribution towards developing high-yielding varieties of paddy, had shown them the way to prosperity.
“It was Swaminathan sir who inaugurated Kerala's first agro service centre in Vandithavalam (a small agrarian village in Palakkad district bordering Tamil Nadu) in 2012. He came to our village to inaugurate Perumatty Agro Service Centre set up under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) by spending Rs 2 crore then,” said P Viswanathan, the president of the Agro Service Centre.
Swaminathan also introduced them to mechanisation and precision farming a decade ago, when, according to Viswanathan, "we were clueless about all those agro machineries". "Today, we have more than 30 agro machines with the latest technologies that minimise ecological problems. In the past 10 years, thousands of farmers have followed his vision here,” Viswanathan said.
It was K Krishnankutty, now the Minister for Electricity and a “senior farmer” among the Chittoor natives, who took the initiative to bring Dr Swaminathan to Perumatty. “The minister, who himself is a reputed farmer in our area, has a good rapport with Swaminathan. He frequently interacts with Swaminathan to get an idea of the latest methods to reduce the farming cost and ways to implement them through the Perumatty agro centre,” Vishwanathan said.
Today, Perumatty Agro Centre offers many services such as consulting in hitech agriculture, farm planning, estimation of farm operation task, crop management and agronomic support, counselling sessions for farmers, irrigation layout and estimation, making available quality seeds, seedlings and hitech agri components on request. The centre, with 60 members, rents out agro machineries at a subsidised rate to the farmers on a first-come-first-served basis.
The Centre has a 12-feet paddy field leveler, imported from Israel and the second such machine in India. There are over 30 machines for transplanting, weeding, harvesting and binding purposes that help farmers in practicing better agronomic methods, higher crop yields and efficient crop management.
"All these essential tools used in modern farming practices to achieve optimal soil conditions came to our small village only because of the vision of Dr Swaminathan,” said Sujith Subramannyan, who has been with the Centre right from its start. “Our centre has given a helping hand for thousands of farmers in Palakkad and neighbouring district for the past 11 years,” he said.