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| April 24, 2019

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I did not know that history was in the making when my father converted the lawn into an agricultural field. -

I did not know that history was in the making when my father converted the lawn into an agricultural field.

Shri. S SRajsekar, the Managing Trustee of NAF, is an entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in real estate promotion and trade. He is the son of former Union Minister C. Subramaniam and has been actively involved in the area of rural agriculture management and social and community development.

Shri. S SRajsekaris a proactive Rotarian involved in several socially relevant projects in and around Tamilnadu.He has held leadership positions in many firms such as Oil & Natural Gas Company Ltd.

Mr. S SRajsekar was appointed the Hon. Lieutenant Governor of State of Alabama in May 2009. He is a Past President of Rotary Club of Madras East and held various offices at the district level.As a Rotarian, he helped his club organize a series of fairs, workshops and public education campaigns that were of supreme relevance to the improvement of quality of human life. He also promoted environmentally and socially sustainable development projects.

Shri SS Rajsekarshares withMarie Banu and Latha Suresh about the importance of agriculture.

Your father Shri C Subramaniam was known as the real architect of the Green Revolution. What was the reason to launch National Agro Foundation?

My father felt that the first green revolution was predominantly aimed at improving the genetic potential with a concept of “Seed to Grain” whereas there was a need to address the challenges in agriculture in the context of changing global conditions. Moreover, the Indian farmers are predominantly small and marginal land holder;they face different sets of challenges and bringing them to the mainstream was the priority. Thus, National Agro Foundation was launched by my father —Shri C Subramaniam—on his 90th birthdayin the year 2000 to bring about the second green revolutionwith special focus on small and marginal farmers.He termed this approach as “soil to market”. There was a need to address the issues of farm and farmers holistically so as to empower themandbring about rural prosperity.

NAF is involved in creating model village clusters wherein a multipronged approach of agriculture development is focused upon. It includes agriculture allied sector development, water and natural resource management, community empowerment, and training and capacity building—which we call 4E model (Education, Earning, Environment and Empowerment).

What are your thoughts about organic farming?

Organic farming is a growing science and has to be approached in its proper perspective. Organic farming, in its true sense, is readily applicable to large land holdings. But, under small farm holder conditions, it has to be a community approach wherein the farmers should adopt to conditions of organic farming collectively in order to prevent the “spill- over effect”.
Our farmers have to go a long way in adopting organic farming. However, NAF advocates “Lean Farming” wherein the excess use of agrochemicals isdiscouraged and the entire crop production process is approached with a combination of organic, bio and inorganic ways which is need based. This reduces the dependency of farmers on external inputs.

Can you tell us about NAF’s training programmes?

Training to build the capacity of various stakeholders of rural development is of utmost importance for sustained benefits. NAF strongly believes in training the stakeholders like farmers, youth, women, skilled workers, bankers, agri-entrepreneurs. Its curriculum is two pronged viz., “Technology Oriented” and “Participant Oriented”. The training programs are designed in such a way that it brings about Change in Attitude (A), Builds the Skill (S) and enriches them with Knowledge (K) – “ASK”.

NAF closely works with agencies like NABARD, Government and Corporate houses in imparting farm sector skill training.Thetraining center campus is spread over 5 acres consisting of classrooms, model farms, farm machinery workshop, residential block, and an open air theatre.Farmers from across the country as well as from Nepal, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh as well have undergone trainings at NAF.

As a boy, you had to give up playing cricket as the 5-acre land was converted to grow wheat. Can you share this memorable incident?

I was too young to understand as to what was happening in 1964since I was just a 10 old boy. My father took up the challenge of solving India’s food problem when it was near a famine situation and the western world had written us off. Ship loads of wheat used to come from U.S and it was termed by my father as a “ship to mouth” existence.

In order to prove that new high yielding varieties would solve India’s food problem, he undertook demonstration plots in his own backyard in New Delhi which used to be my playground. This was converted into a farm overnight and Mexican and Indian wheat varieties were grown for comparison. I distinctly remember that my father himself used to measure the plant growth and observe for grain formation. At that stage I did not realize that history was in the making. Thus the Green Revolution transformed India’s Agriculture.

In the last 15-20 years of my father’s lifetime he felt that there was a need to bring about a second green revolution and founded National Agro Foundation with a clear roadmap for us to follow. I am carrying forward his legacy and we have a long way to go.