Devoted to Farming
Yahqappu Adaikkalam’s 1½ acres of land at Batu Arang, Selangor, radiates all the agroecological features that are essential to protecting the earth from the intimidating clutches of agrochemicals. The 20 years of practising natural farming have turned Yahqappu into a refined farmer who puts the environment to the fore at all costs.
Yahqappu has the least tolerance for routine work. “I cannot remain glued in one place. In the process of determining the right vocation, I discovered that natural farming fits perfectly with my nature.
“Ever since I started farming, experimenting has become an inextricable part of my life. The daily dose of challenges that farming throws at me is an opportunity for new trials, failures and accomplishments. I feel blessed in the sense that farming constantly connects me with nature and has evolved me into a thinking person,” said Yahqappu.
Yahqappu said that if one understands the needs of the land and acquires the right techniques for feeding it with the proper nutrients, then he is the real master of the land.
“The rampant use of agrochemicals has done irreversible damage to the soil. It is sad to see many Malaysian farmers cannot see beyond earning, and they don’t realise the profit is short-term.
“For example, one decade ago, jasmine farming was in vogue around my area. All those clamours about how much profit one could rake in through jasmine farming have now died down.
“The reason behind this is the heavy use of agrochemicals. Slowly, the land failed them. What more can we expect from a land that was robbed of its entire nutrients?
“This reminds me of the parable about the rabbit and the tortoise. Like the rabbit that is deluded by its own speed and strength, farmers think they can reach their target solely by depending on agrochemicals, oblivious to the fact that those toxins are actually the bane of their entire effort.
“The natural farmers are like the tortoise. They might be slow, but they reach the target, and above all, with their patience and perseverance, they help to sustain nature,” explained Yahqappu.
Yahqappu said the earthworm composting methods he learned from the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) come in handy in maintaining the soil fertility on his farm. He sells the earthworm compost for RM5 per kg.
Other than that, the cows, chickens and rabbits that he rears, through their dung, continuously help to enrich the soil on his farm.
Yahqappu had tried his hand at extracting sesame oil owing to the abundance of health properties of sesame oil and the high demand for it. After extracting the oil, the leftover sesame cake is used in the preparation of a simplified pancakavya concoction.
One handful of sesame meal, 3 litres of cow urine, 5 kg of cow dung, and 300 grammes of molasses are mixed together in a container. This mixture is stirred in the morning and evening for 48 hours, after which it is ready for use.
Overgrown weeds on the farms are cut and spread on the same soil. This simplified pancakavya is then splashed equally on the spread-out weed and covered with a porous weed control mat. The daily water evaporation beneath the mat helps to maintain moisture and hasten the composting process.
After a month, when one opens the mat and scoops out the soil, it comes out crumbly, a sign of perfect composting and soil fertility.
According to Yahqappu’s estimation, 1 acre of farmland needs 10 tonnes of compost. The simplified pancakavya serves the dual purpose of controlling weeds and turning them into compost.
Yahqappu said pest control is not his concern anymore. When the ecological balance is restored and sustained, pests and other creatures are taken care of by nature. Complete eradication of pests is not possible on any farm, not to mention it is against nature.
Currently, Yahqappu plants vegetables like okra, eggplant, long beans, snake gourds, sugarcane, and a variety of leafy vegetables. After the sale for the day is over, the remaining vegetables are sent to a nearby supermarket where they are displayed on a shelf meant for organic produce.
Yahqappu does not employ any workers on his farm. “Farming is a sort of devotion for me. It pained me to see the workers carry out the task without any interest, and I realised they too suffered in the process. That was when I decided to go solo. If you remain calm and persistent, eventually, nature will reward you,” summed up Yahqappu.