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Fed up of Chemical-laden Veggies, Woman Starts Organic Farming for Her Child in Tamil Nadu

S Jayalakshmi lived 14 years in Canada and after that she returned to Chennai in 1992, and found herself in difficulty. It was very hard for her to find chemical-free fruits & vegetables for her daughter, this is something for which she did not struggled in Canada.

M Kanika
S Jayalakshmi a Women Farmer
S Jayalakshmi

S Jayalakshmi had lived 14 years in Canada and after that she returned to Chennai in 1992, and found herself in difficulty. It was very hard for her to find chemical-free fruits & vegetables for her daughter who was suffering from some allergies. Jayalakshmi had never struggled for chemical-free vegetables and fruits in Canada.

She searched a lot in the local markets, but most of the vegetables came coated with toxins. Her daughter was suffering from some allergies. The only thing she could do for her was to mix & match the vegetables from markets and some from the natural farmers on the outskirts of city.

At last, she received help from her cousin, who offered her a 5-acre patch from her land for organic farming. Jayalakshmi was facing many family issues, her husband was suffering from multiple health issues, their debts were kept piling and eventually Jayalakshmi plunged into losses.

She Found a Helping-Hand

Jayalakshmi’s cousin offered her a land, but she did not have any idea about farming. So with minimal knowledge about how to grow greens, paddy and drumsticks, she could not get success. Her husband was suffering from heart attack and he fell into coma and underwent several surgeries. And, when her husband recovered, he moved back to Canada because of health issues and to find better source to earn money. Only Jayalakshmi and her daughter stayed back in India. She was 54-year-old that time.

She recalls, how she suffered when people cheated her financially, she could not even repay her loans & after some time stopped farming.

A Ray of Hope

In 2002, she found a ray hope, when Dr Shanmuga Sundaram, an Orthodontist from “Ramakrishna Ashram Mission School” arrived. Dr Shanmuga Sundaram introduced her about the concept of “Zero Budget Natural Farming through a workshop, which was held in the city”.  He offered 3-acres of land to Jayalakshmi, and that is how she could give herself another chance for farming.

Jayalakshmi started farming again, and she began by growing paddy & eventually extended her farming area from 3-acres to 10-acres. Later she started growing herbal plants, green leafy vegetables such as, fenugreek, drumsticks (These are the herbs, commonly found in Southern India), spinach & others. She also cultivated fruits such as guava, mango & chikoos (Also known as Sapodilla).

Jayalakshmi tried her best to grow & harvest all the fruits & vegetables but, there was still a gap. She struggles to take her “Naturally grown produce to the Urban Market”. She was very confident as a farmer but the only thing she was lacking is from the marketing skill, she did not know how to approach the customers.  

Dr Shanmuga Sundaram, helped her in this issue and introduced her to Arulpriya Senthil Kumar, a resident from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, working on various aspects of sustainability.

Found a Mate for a Common Goal

Arulpriya quit her job because of long working & travelling hours. She could not find time to spend with her children and decided to work from home. She observed how her children ate a lot of fruits & vegetables and the waste generated from this was substantial. She thought of a better way to treat organic waste rather than throwing them in dustbin. She asked her friends & learned about composing, eventually she herself researched about it and began practicing it and was creating awareness on this topic.

She started conducting workshops on composting & treating the organic waste. She motivated people and spread awareness. During such drives of environment friendly lifestyle, she met Jayalakshmi. They both joined hands and started “Namma Boomi” (Our Earth) that offers eco-friendly products & doubles up as the platform, which offers natural grown farm produce.

With help & support of Arulpriya, Jayalakshmi started selling her naturally grown chemical-free fruits & vegetables to hundreds of urban dwellers. They have been selling as door-to-door services since 2010. After 7 years Jayalakshmi reached out to the urban customers.

Now, Jayalakshmi sells her fruits & vegetables under “Namma Boomi” to 4 routes & 70 families on each. She also plans to reach out to 2 other routes of city as well & spread a message about her chemical-free farm produce.

Organic Farming
Organic Farming

Jayalakshmi says “Over the past few years, I have travelled to different parts of country including Kashmir & Uttarakhand to meet the traditional farmers and understand their agriculture practices. My quest for good food & learning new practices continues till date”.

Farming is not Easy

Through the years of setbacks & learnings, Jayalakshmi says that the soil does not need chemical to grow the food. Nature has equipped soil with all necessary nutrition for the agriculture. There is not any need to add the artificial chemicals to increase the production.

She says that the customers influence the farmers indirectly & contribute to support the use of chemical fertilizers. Customers always expect the fruits to be bright & big, and the vegetables to have certain shape, size & color. The shine on fruits & vegetables can only come from the hybrid varieties or from the chemical fertilizers. The naturally grown farm produce, not always look attractive, but holds more nutritional value.  

She is working on dual ends to create awareness among the farmers & encourage the customers to move towards a chemical-free lifestyle. She has cultivated seeds of 75 native paddy varieties & ask the farmers to grow them for the conservation.

Farming is not easy and it demands hard work, but it always rewards us with satisfaction. I own my business & operate at m will, that brings me happiness in a true sense. My success in the Agriculture World would not have been made possible without the help & support, which I have received. – says Jayalakshmi.

She further says “Farmers needs the support & encouragement of those with means in order to sustain & progress” exactly like she received it. “Many people have the potential to invest money & support the needy farmers like me. They should come forward and do the needful”. 

S Jayalakshmi is a true inspiration for all. We congratulate her taking this initiative and start Chemical-Free Natural Farming & spread awareness. The project she started “Namma Boomi” is selling Natural & Eco-Friendly products.

You can also buy them via: https://www.nammaboomi.com/

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