Watch: How A Tamil Nadu Initiative Is Championing Heritage Rice

IN Tamil Nadu's Manjakuddi village, on the banks of Kaveri river, lie farms that stand testimony to the inherent bond between humans and nature. At a time when food scarcity, climate change and ecological imbalance are some of the most pressing issues of our generation, the rice farms at Manjakuddi make for more than just a picturesque sight.

Swami Dayananda Farms' initiative titled "Spirit of the Earth" promotes the cultivation of organic heritage rice along with empowering local tribal women, boosting weaving practices within the community among others. The farm boasts an impressive collection of 278 different rice varieties, cultivated with a careful balance of conservation and commercial farming practices. Seeds are sourced from 16 states, ensuring a diverse genetic pool for their crops.

To start the growth process, the farm uses small grow bags filled with soil and nutrients, allowing for initial seedlings to grow before propagating more seeds for sowing. Their commitment to sustainability is evident in their efforts to transform non-fertile land, previously affected by toxic chemicals, into a thriving organic farm. Through a 15-month process of diligent watering and ploughing, they rid the soil of harmful chemicals to create a fertile environment for their crops.

The nursery is an essential aspect of the farm's success, where different rice varieties are carefully sowed and then transplanted to the main fields. To prevent cross-pollination, the farm practices line farming, keeping each variety separated by a distance of 2-3 feet. Some varieties take only 90 days to grow, while others require up to 180 days. The farmers alternate between short and long-duration varieties during sowing to prevent cross-pollination during harvest.

The transplanting process involves ploughing, weeding, and seeding. Instead of relying on harsh chemicals, the farm uses Pachankaviyam, Amrithakalasam, 5-leaf extract, and neem oil to keep their crops healthy and pest free. It takes around 100 days for the crop to grow to a height of 3-4.5 feet, and after one more round of weeding, the yield is ready for harvest around the 150th-160th day.

Watch Slurrp's on-ground report on this initiative: