A champion of native virtues

By Times Of India on 15 Mar 2018
TRICHY: To call Subramania Siva a native farmer would be an understatement for he infuses the native spirit in every planting activity he undertakes. Raising native breeds of cattle remains his major avocation, but he is also into cultivating and promoting traditional rice varieties as well as vegetables and fruits, all the organic way.
Siva’s fascination for cattle began around 10 years ago when he bought bulls for ploughing his field and to provide manure for his farm. That was when the 59-year-old seriously thought about turning towards breeding. “My intention was to raise pure native breeds that would be disease-resistant and yield milk as much as the hybrid ones”, says the progressive farmer hailing from Musiri. He has been raising these rare indigenous breeds under a coconut grove. Besides Gir, he has Sahiwal, Congrat, the local Kangayam breed as well as a few Tellichery goats in the farm. He avidly goes around propagating his finding that Indian breeds give high yield of milk as they have excellent immunity.

Siva accepts that hybrid varieties of cows yield higher quantities of milk than native breeds, but he points out that they are more suitable for commercial purpose. “Their milk is not good for our health,” he adds “Agriculture is our ancestral occupation and we have been keeping cattle for a long time. The easiest way to identify a desi breed is by the hump,” says Siva. According to him, humped cattle produced rich milk which contributed to brain function and growth.

If cattle remains his first love, cultivating traditional varieties of rice and vegetables is his focus. Rice varieties like ‘Mappillai Samba’, ‘Áthur Kitchadi Samba’ and ‘Seeraga Samba’ are grown on his land in Murisi organically. The fodder, culled from the fields around him, does not have pesticide and, unlike commercial establishments, he claims he does not inject his cows with oxytocin injections to induce lactation. However, securing high-quality semen samples for breeding has been posing a challenge. Siva currently gets his frozen samples from farmers living in surrounding districts like Namakkal and Erode.

Ask him where he drew his inspiration from and he points to Nammalvar, the green crusader, agricultural scientist and organic farming expert. It was he who spurred Subramania Siva to switch from ordinary farming to the organic way. Earlier, he has been cultivating whatever was prescribed by the agriculture department without asking questions. “After his visit to my home, I totally changed. That day I decided to live a life without affecting our environment. Since then, for the last 10 years, I have been undertaking organic farming for the sake of the general public as well as for my cattle”, he added.

Siva has also been growing various types of native fruits like guava, papaya and vegetables without using any chemical or pesticide. He appealed to traders selling organic products to fix a minimum margin so that more people could afford them. He points out that if sales increased, the ultimate beneficiary would be the farmer. “It is time we protected the hardier native breeds from extinction. Besides, we should hand over native breeds and chemical-free food to our future generation just as we got them from our ancestors. That is my wish”, he added.