Agriculture: The Indigenous Way

Published on 14th September 2009

“There is a popular adage in English, “give a man a fish he lives for a day, teach him to fish he lives for a lifetime,” This is exactly what our farmers need today.

“Instead of buying external inputs such as seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, they should learn to make and use their own bio pest repellents, and plant growth promoters,” says Dr. G. Namalwar, organic scientist from Tamil Nadu.

If one studies the agricultural scenario of the past 40 years, one observes that hundreds of cultivable areas are turning into residential plots.

Why is this happening in a country with more than 1,500 years of agricultural heritage?

Wrong focus.

The answer is simple. The Green Revolution focused more on increased inputs and yields and totally ignored the local and traditional knowledge systems of the farmers.

As a result, in 40 years we lost our native seed varieties, our lands became barren, native birds and insects which helped the crops grow well vanished, water tables started depleting, cross breeding of hybrid cows made several native breeds extinct and there has been more migration towards cities due to unemployment in rural areas.

Not remunerative

Today there is a general view that farming is not remunerative and that a farmer cannot cultivate unless he obtains loans.

“It is true that farming is not lucrative as long as a farmer uses external inputs for growing his crops. On the other hand if he switches to sustainable agriculture as was done by his forefathers then he can definitely cut down a major expense on his input,” he emphasises.

Friendly farming

Hundreds of farmers have realised this truth and have switched over to more environmental friendly farming systems and are reaping good results.Farmers just need to look around their own fields or village for making any bio inputs. 

All the necessary inputs required for their farm are there and there is no need for them to go to the towns and buy, according to Dr. Namalwar. He says that, for example, for making a plant growth stimulant labelled as herbal tea, take an iron, plastic or cement tank and fill it with water (3/4 full). 

Take 5 kg of cow dung and any medicinal plant leaves (such as neem, nochi, custard apple leaves), one-fourth kg jaggery and one big stone or brick. 

Place all the above mentioned items inside a jute sack, tie the mouth of the sack tightly with a rope and immerse it inside the water.

Leave the other end of the rope free. Shake the sack, holding the free end of the rope two times everyday in such a way that the contents inside the sack mix well with the water (similar to the tea bags immersed in milk).

One week time 

In one week, the ‘herbal tea’ for the crop is ready for use. It can be either poured directly near the root zone of the crops or sprayed. For one litre dilute in nine litres of water and use.

Amudha Karaisal 

Similarly take 1 kg of fresh cow dung, urine and Ipomoea Cornea (Tamil name Neiveli Kattamanakku) leaves each and 25 gm of jaggery. Mix all these well in 10 litres of water and stir well (3 times a day). In 24 hours the solution (Amudha Karaisal, AK) is ready. For use, dilute one litre of AK in 10 litres of water and spray or mix with irrigating water. 

But how far are these local systems beneficial in the long run? 

“These traditional systems have existed for hundreds of years and only for the past 4-5 decades have they disappeared.

Realised importance 

But today our farmers have realised the importance of going back to these systems as they are pocket friendly and effective,” he opines. 

Though we have policies which speak out in support of the farmer, sadly they are only on paper and not put in action. 

“A farmer must realize that he alone is responsible and answerable for his yield. These systems may look insignificant but their results are proven and have been found effective by a number of farmers,” he says.

By Mr J. Prabu

First published in The Hindu. 

To contact Dr. G. Namalwar, email:


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