1. Success Story

Homemaker Transforms Her Family's 10-acre Chemical-laden Land into Organic Farm; You Will Be Amazed To Know Her Story

Conviction and perseverance are two of P Buvaneshwari’s biggest strengths. It’s why she was able to convince her in-laws to farm organically, a method that was completely in contrast to their usual way of farming. Read To Know More!

Ayushi Raina
P Buvaneshwari Transforms Her Family's 10-acre Chemical-laden Land into Organic Farm
P Buvaneshwari Transforms Her Family's 10-acre Chemical-laden Land into Organic Farm

Buvaneshwari's greatest strengths are conviction and perseverance. It's why she was able to convince her in-laws to farm organically, an approach that was utterly foreign to them. 

Bhuvaneshwari asked her family for 1.5 acres of vacant land on their 10-acre farm so she could plant food naturally.

No one, not even the agricultural laborers, had any faith in her. 

However, based on her kitchen gardening experience, she believed that if the proper procedures are used, it is feasible to shift from chemical to organic farming. She began experimenting in 2013, and the entire 10-acre farm is now free of harmful chemicals and pesticides over eight years later. 

While eliminating the use of chemicals is a noble goal and a necessary step toward a healthier lifestyle, it is by no means a simple task. 

"If the soil and crops, which have been accustomed to chemicals, suddenly stop receiving them, the effect will be unfavorable. The yield will be impacted, if not ruined. We were able to assure a smooth transfer because of my background, habits, and information gathered over the years." Bhuvaneshwari explains 

The 54-year-old was born into a farming family in Kalyanaodai village, Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu. She grew up in the lap of nature, with the Kaveri River running right next to her house. 

"I've had easy access to a variety of fruits and vegetables grown on our farm and in our hamlet since my childhood. Mother Nature was gracious enough to give us with resources that improved our quality of life. If I got a craving for blueberries, I could go and harvest some from the blueberry plants growing nearby.   If mosquitoes were bothering us at night, we would pluck 'nochi' leaves and scatter them around us to sleep undisturbed.

It is this intimacy that I had with mother nature along with a desire and drive to learn, aroused my interest in farming. As the years passed, I continued to observe my family's farming activities, and that very skill came handy," she added. 

After her marriage, she relocated to Madurai's Pudukottai Karuppayurani hamlet and began farming by growing flowers in a tank-like structure filled with soil called thotti, which was placed in their backyard. Within six months, roses, hibiscus, and jasmine were blossoming in the garden. 

When Bhuvaneshwari decided to go into full-time farming, she had two major priorities: stop using pesticides and reintroduce native rice varieties. 

Steps She took to make her land organic and highly fertile 

Prior to Bhuvaneshwari's arrival, the farm was growing hybrid paddy, which required a lot of water and was vulnerable to pest attacks. As a result, the soil required an abundance of artificial fertilizers and pesticides as pest repellents. 

"The green pigmentation of the crops had begun to fade, rendering the crops white.  Our crops would suffer greatly during the summer and drought season," added Bhuvaneshwari. 

She wanted a foolproof method for naturally growing vegetables, grains, and fruits. She approached the Vanagam Nammalvar Ecological Foundation in Karur to learn more about organic farming. 

After success on 1.5 acres, Bhuvaneshwari expanded to the rest of the land. 

Here's what she does to improve the fertility of her soil, enhance productivity, and keep insects at bay: 

  • She sprayed a mixture of ginger, garlic, green chillies and buttermilk on the plants which had lost their coloration.

  • This concoction was the outcome of several trial and errortechniques she attempted. This natural remedy reversed the white coloration and restored the vegetables to their original, green state. The results gave her the courage to do more experiments. 

  • Bhuvaneshwari mixed cow dung until it attained the consistency of batter, then let it ferment overnight. She then applied the mixture on the field, either by pouring or spraying it. She utilized cow urine as a natural disinfectant, keeping it in tanks and spraying them regulalry.

  • Panchakavyamis the third mix she uses. It is made out of ghee, cow urine, cow dung, curd, and milk. Water is added to this mixture, and the solution is well stirred with a dense stick. This is stored overnight for five days and tightly covered to keep mosquitoes and flies away. This also prevents egg-laying, which can attract worms and contaminate the solution. According to her, this combination is the most effective solution. Other ingredients such as bananas, sugarcane, and yeast can be included. 

  • To prevent the crop from going sour or emitting a stench, she mixes leaves from around 25 different plants, including nochi(white-chaste tree), spinach, vilvamtulsi, etc. with cow dung. She ferments this for six days and adds 10-15 liters of water. 

Reviving Indigenous Rice Varieties 

Bhuvaneshwari intended to bring back native rice varieties such as Kichili samba, thulasi seerga samba, vadan samba, sigappu kavuni (red rice), and karunkuruvai after viewing the results of hybrid varieties. 

She started with two varieties, borrowing seeds from an Ariyalur farmer. She revitalized the field and cultivated the crops with the aforementioned organic fertilizers and sugarcane mulch. 

She cultivated leguminous plants alongside rice to restore nitrogen. This hack was successful, as the field yielded around 25 kilos of both rice varieties. 

"At first, the crops suffered, and many advised me to apply pesticides. But I refused to give up and continued spraying my own concoctions. It took some time, but it gave wonderful effects," recalls Bhuvaneshwari. 

She also used intercropping to develop vegetables like tomato, eggplant, green chilies and snake gourd as well as leguminous crops like moong dal and urad dal. 

She placed spinach in between tomatoes and eggplant, both of which demand a lot of nutrients. "Spinach needs optimum sunlight to grow well, therefore assisting plants around it to thrive as well. Leguminous crops help other crops grow as well, due to nitrogen fixation properties,” she adds. 

A good yield is reflected in the family’s revenue growth. 

"The yield produced every cycle of the 'karuppu kowni' rice is around 72 kilos, and income per kilo ranges between Rs.180 and Rs.200. I sell it for Rs.200, which is less than the market price of Rs.350," she explains. 

She hosts students, farmers, and consumers on her farm to ensure the quality of her products before they are purchased.

She takes them on a tour and demonstrates her organic methods, as well as offering cooked food such as kozhukattai, kanji, halwa, paniyarampuliogare, lemon rice, and other prepares from rice varieties grown in her field. 

"I ate Bhuvaneswari's karuppu kowni rice." My blood sugar levels dropped from 400 to 150 in three months. I can go on and on about the major benefits. I feel more energetic and the rice tastes extremely good," says Nikumba, one of Bhuvaneshwari's customers. 

A modest Bhuvaneshwari is not afraid to share his or her failures. According to her, these will assure people when they face similar challenges.  

She claims that when she attempted excavating small pits and channels to collect rainwater, they were ineffective on her farm. 

"These water-saving methods are affected by a variety of factors and they differ depending on location and terrain.  As a result, many water saving strategies may be ineffective. I definitely intend to look at other options in the future," she said. 

‘Advice and hacks that I swear by’ 

"In order to get rid of chemicals, you must first change your mindset.  Chemicals are not the only way to help farmers. Adopt parampariya (traditional) practices that have been shown to be the most successful." 

"Utilize as much cow dung and sugarcane mulch as possible.  You may also utilize any indigenous item, such as neem oil or pest-repelling plants. Nature has all the answers.” 

"If you want to get into farming, don't be worried with the size of your property. Put your heart and soul into it, and even a tiny plot of land may yield harvests that will last for generations." 

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