The word vivasayam (farming) strikes many chords in the hearts of any Tamilian. Growing up in the city, with a complete lack of knowledge or experience in agriculture, I have always been amused by the pride and the deep connections farmers have with agricultural practices. I had an opportunity to get on with a quick chat with a farmer, Palanivel, from Sozhavaram (Tiruvannamalai District) as we maneuvered our way on his picturesque fields.

Describe this bond you have with agriculture?
Right from my parents’ time we have been practicing agriculture; it’s almost been 40 years, as long as I remember. It has in a way become our default occupation which we have passed from one generation to the next. It runs in our veins and has become a part of our life; it is all that we think about.

What are some of the changes that you have seen happen in the past 10 years?
One of the major changes that have evolved in the past 10 years is the third-party (resellers) behavior. Earlier the farmers had a say in how much they would price their produce, which was fair to both resellers and themselves. But now it is the opposite. The resellers demand a particular price on our produce which mostly is unfair. I still have not received a payment of over `2lakhs for the sugarcane I sold around 2 years ago. This is the case of many other farmers across Tamil Nadu. Also, the last 10 years have seen a hike in hybrid crops.

Has agriculture always been a family affair?
Agriculture has always been a family affair. It always will. We will not let go of it easily. My children have seen me working in the fields and now, the first thing they do after coming home from school is to help me and their mother out on the fields. They learn as they grow, and their children someday will learn from them. Each of my siblings including myself has separate lands, but we help each other out during the sowing and reaping stage. Wherever we are, we manage to come back to our fields and work together as a family.

Have you ever thought of giving up agriculture?
Absolutely not. Not even in our darkest days, we think about giving up agriculture. I am also an electrician and I earn more like one. Before the lockdown, I invested around `60,000 in farming, and we made around `70,000 with a profit of just `10,000. Even at hard times like these we will never give up farming.