* 1967 : a great famine
* Irrigation's changes
* The staff
* Figures
* 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 … "


Madamadurai 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.


Father Ceyrac
Encourages the personnel by his presence. He defines along with them the goals to be reached, looks for financing sources and validates the decisions.

Adaikalam Manager,
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:

28 people

§ 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.


Farm's personnel.


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.



Pilot farm: testing of new species of rice and sugar cane.

1) A varied production:

Number of yearly harvests
Rice fields
6 ha
Sugar canes
4 ha
Peanut fields
0.8 ha


Fruit trees
Number of saplings
guava trees
coconut trees
mango trees


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 cattle

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

Coconuts harvesting

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."






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 2001-2002

Human needs :

Farm's workers

§ 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.

Material needs:

§ Agricultural machines
§ Underground pumps
§ One generator
§ One jeep






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