* 1967 : a great famine
* Irrigation's changes
* The staff
* To help us
In the following text Father
Ceyrac explains us how began the idea of Model Farm at Manamadurai,
south of India.
( Extract from the book Tout
ce qui n'est pas donné est perdu !)
1) At the beginning, in 1967
farm was built in 1967. Today, one would strongly insist on the
idea of liberation. Yet, at the time of founding it, the first
preoccupation was to provide people with food and work. In 1967,
indeed, Bihar was devastated by a serious famine, the last of
the great famines experienced in India. At that time, I was in
charge of the Indian national students movement (AICUF). We thought
that we had to do something concrete. "We cannot philosophize
in our universities when people near us are starving to death."
AICUF thus launched the construction work to build the Manamadurai
farm. We thought: "if we can produce, even if it is only
20 tons of rice, it will be a first step".
It was a symbolic action: we
didn't want to choose the good land that everybody could cultivate,
but an extremely unproductive land wherein agricultural work would
acquire a symbolic value. Nowadays, delegates from all over India
come to visit us and see what we have done.
This is not a very big farm: around 50 hectares. A deserted place
at the beginning, this place is now a garden.
Adaikalam was one of the local farmers; he became the head of
the farm. Adaikalam is an extraordinary man, very representative
of popular India. His sense of management and organization are
amazing, to which one may add, a deep affection for the people."
2) The right man for
the job : Adaikalam
It's Adaikalam who is speaking
now. His testimony was originally in Tamul, his mother tongue and
translated in English afterwards.
"I was born in 1930, in a farmer's family.
From my early days, I took part in the various works in the fields.
I have been managing this farm for 33 years, based on my experience,
while adopting the latest innovations.
Manamadurai is located in the Ramanathapuram
district, the most remote district in Tamil Nadu, due to irregular
monsoons causing droughts. A socio-economic survey was conducted
in the 1960's. When he became aware of the misery of the inhabitants
of this region, Father Ceyrac wanted to launch a project to help
them. That is how the farm was created. Its surface area is 41 ha,
i.e. 100 acres. Its 2 aims are:
- To be a model farm using all
the technical and scientific innovations, while giving priority
to the respect of human beings.
- To help the poor in the region: by providing some of them
with work, and, through the sale of fruit to the poorest at a lower
price than the market's that will enable them to support their family.
Sale of fruits
Farm unites them beyond the notions of caste,
nationality and religion. This place is an example of fight against
oppression and injustice.
Moreover, every year, young volunteers have
the opportunity to have an experience of solidarity with our country.
I dedicated my whole life to working
for that farm and I intend to do so till the end. In the future,
the farm should become an autonomous judiciary entity capable of
self-management without any external financial help. In this context,
the two aims evoked earlier are obviously complementary."
|The following lines are more
focused on the facts and intend to show clearly the farm's organization
and needs in the short and medium runs.
II. THE IN CHARGES AND
THE FARM PERSONNEL
Encourages the personnel by his presence. He defines along with
them the goals to be reached, looks for financing sources and validates
The manager reaches the targets and supervises the daily work
of the personnel in the farm. His son Albert, who is in charge of
the accountancy, helps him.
The permanent personnel:
§ 1 mechanic, in charge of the control
and regulation of the probes that feed the wells.
§ 1 driver who drives and maintains the tractor.
§ 1 cook
§ 2 watchmen, for day and night security
§ 20 agricultural workers (men and women)
§ 1 person in charge of harvest of coconuts
§ 2 people in charge of the livestock.
Depending on the seasons and monsoons, this personnel is complemented
by non-permanent workers. They are paid on a daily basis and their
number varies up to, sometimes, 200.
III. THE ORGANIZATION
Pilot farm: testing of new species of rice and sugar cane.
1) A varied production:
Number of yearly harvests
Number of saplings
At the beginning, there were no guava trees in this Indian region.
In 1967, the first plants were imported from Madras. Nowadays,
other farmers have started growing this fruit. Still, the farm
remains the best producer in the whole region. Recently, a new
type of sugar cane was tested. The results are very encouraging:
2 harvests per year and superb plants! A new attempt that will
certainly bear fruit in the region
Other trees: eucalyptus, teak.
Six vegetable gardens: onions, potatoes, tomatoes, radishes,
carrots, cauliflowers, beans, spinach, and so on
The farm is specialized in agricultural production. However,
it maintains livestock composed of 15 heads: 10 cows, 5 buffaloes,
and 4 coughs. The cow being a sacred animal in India, milk is
the only monetary source. 15 litres are milked daily in the farm.
As for the buffaloes, they are directly sold or kept for work
in the fields.
2) An efficient irrigation system
The fruit trees are watered daily thanks to a drop-by-drop system
linked to 10 open wells used as tanks. 10 probes feed these wells.
This drop-by-drop system recently replaced the canal system, which
is less efficient because of the fallen, obstructing leaves and
the water waste.
3) Respect for people
Women in fields
"Here we want to free people, the opposite
of paternalism. We always told them: "You are not for the farm,
the farm is for you." We never tried to make profits by making
people work. We are not a colonialist farm. We want to free people.
Manamadurais's great success was, I think,
to support a population of respected people. They acquired a dignity
previously damaged by poverty."
INCOMES AND EXPENDITURES IN 1999
V. THE DIFFICULTIES
According to Adaikalamelles,
they are of two or three kinds. Measures have already been taken
to solve some of these problems. Nevertheless, a mutual help is
still necessary, mostly because of unpredictable weather conditions.
§ Considering the land's
acreage, fruit are frequently stolen.
§ Though the farm has good relations with the neighbourhood,
misunderstandings arise and lead to fights.
§ The main problem remains the same as for any agricultural
business: the climatic variations. This reality, associated to the
role of the farm as a support to the poorest (weekly donations,
cheap fruit sales
), causes financial problems. This explains
the fact as to why we depend on Father Ceyrac's support.
VI. THE NEEDS IN
Human needs :
§ A specialist of agriculture
and horticulture, capable of bringing new techniques and training
men. The main need being the fruit trees trimming.
§ A specialist of biotechnology, capable of using genetics
and other innovative methods.
§ Volunteers ready to join the agricultural workers.
§ Counsellors in agricultural management.
§ Agricultural machines
§ Underground pumps
§ One generator
§ One jeep