What inspires farmers and why is their job so important? Ravichandran Vanchinathan explains:
Why did you want to be a farmer?
Although I am a mathematics graduate and have flair for math’s I took up farming! I have the strong conviction that farming alone can provide maximum job satisfaction, when compared with other vocations. I have been thinking for a very long time that I should help resource poor, small and marginal farmers in enhancing their production and productivity through the intervention of the right technology. I felt that I should set an example.
What crops do you grow?
I grow, rice, pulses, sugarcane and cotton.
What impact do pests and disease have on your crops?
In every crop and every variety, we grow there is a huge discrepancy between potential and actual yield. We seldom have the perfect conditions to attain the potential yield these varieties are capable of. Factors like pests, diseases and weeds hamper yield levels. Despite being unable to set ideal conditions for plant growth, we can minimize the damage inflicted upon crops. Thanks to the latest technologies that science has provided to agriculture, we are able to narrow the gap between the potential yield and actual yield.
In my three decades of cotton farming, three types of cotton boll worm have reduced cotton yields significantly. In spite of my best efforts to control these pests the damage was so severe that at one point of time, I even contemplated giving up. These appalling conditions prevailed until Bt Cotton was introduced in India, in 2002.
In general, how important is it to have access to crop protection products?
Fortunately for us there are several plant science innovations developed through the hard work of dedicated crop scientists. Unfortunately, many of these products remain confined to the labs due to reasons other than science. For instance, in India 98% of farmers haven’t yet benefited from GM technology. In order to get the maximum benefit of the technologies, they should be transferred from lab to land. Politics shouldn’t pose a hurdle.
Why is your profession important in the challenge to feed the world?
The current world population is 7.5 billion and continues to grow at an alarming rate. By 2050, the global population will be close to 9.5 billion. On the other hand, areas suitable for arable farming are becoming harder to find with farm lands being used for non-agricultural purposes. The impact of global warming on agriculture is a matter of great concern. There is real challenge ahead for farmers. We have to produce enough to feed the growing population. This is the time for farmers like me to adopt the best technologies and drive away hunger and poverty from the face of the earth.
What inspires you about your job?
No one can think of life without food, water and oxygen. The very thought that every day my job as a farmer addresses and satisfies the needs of someone, somewhere in this planet, inspires me to continue my job as farmer.
Ravichandran is a Rice, Pulses, Sugarcane and Cotton farmer in India.