Ramayapatti village in Dindugal district has been badly affected on account of the toxic effluents of a nearby leather factory destroying the land of the Dalit people, who had to feed themselves by raising goats and poultry while their land had become useless for growing paddy. Taking the help of the nearby Gandhigram Trust and Prof. Ganesan of Gandhigram Rural Institute we initiated a project of helping the Dalit farmers grow a crop called Amaranthus (Arai Keerai in Tamil ) whose grains are similar to the Rice and Wheat cereals but are supposed to have far more nutrition in them. Our Trustee’s Internet research on Amaranthus and correspondence with the Amaranthus Research Institute of USA has shown that Amaranthus can be grown even in arid and toxic conditions, requires minimum fertilizer and yield per acre is very high.
Unfortunately the outcome of our first initiative was not good due to the contamination in the water. Again after clearing the fields, two of the farmers in the area tried to experiment growing the crop. But it was found that when there was rain, the harvest was considerable whereas when they had to use the locally available water, the crops didn’t yield at all.
We have procured about 4 kgs of Grain Amaranthus seeds (commonly known as CO4) and are negotiating with Gandhigram Rural University to experiment the crop in controlled conditions under strict supervision in order to assess for ourselves about the yield of the crop. Subsequently we have identified people interested to experiment this crop at various parts of the country, such as Jeevan Jyothi Palliative care centre at Theni, Villagers in Ayyampatti village of Chinnamanur, FRLHT-Bangalore, Tribal Health Initiative-Sittilingi, Samavesh-Bhopal, etc.
Our goal is to get convinced by experimenting for ourselves and on satisfaction of the results convince at least 200 farmers who are unable to grow paddy due to their land conditions or due to the high cost of paddy cultivation to take up the cultivation of Amaranthus.