Duraisamy’s new diesel pump

Our neighbour, Duraisamy has just bought a Diesel Engine and pump after at least two years of saving and skimping. So we were worried about all this talk of soaring Oil prices and Rationing of Diesel…

Duraisamy was pushed in this direction by various things. Till now, he cultivated Tapioca which is the cash crop here, which required him to be here three or four months of the year. The rest of the year he would work in Kerala where he could earn more money than in TN.

His wife, Pottiamma, has severe diabetes and for at least the last two years has had daily insulin shots: She spent a week in the Hospital down in Sittilingi run by our friends Regi and Lalitha, and learnt to administer her own injections. Regi and Lalitha have also advised her to include Ragi and Greens in her diet and cut down on Rice.

According to Regi, there is a lot of diabetes hereabouts because of changes in the diet of the people:

A generation ago, there was no road up from Salem, and Old-timers speak of their going to the shandy, some twenty km away, once in six months, with their cash crop on their heads (kaddukai/harda/hartaki/terminalia chebula), and returning with salt and matches. They were self sufficient with regard to everything else! So children grew up eating a variety of grain (samai, kambu, ragi, veragarisi and others which I have never seen before coming here, let alone know the English equivalents of) and legumes and plenty of vegetables (pumpkins and gourds), and fruits for the picking (guavas,bananas, papayas, jackfruit, mangoes, wood-apples, nellikai, ber….)

Now, Tapioca is a monoculture cash crop, and most people eat only Rice, and that too Rice from the Ration shop. Trees have been cut and sold for timber: hence less fruit to pick.Vegetables, too, are sold for cash, and that means fewer vegetables for home consumption. This poverty of diet shows up in an increase in ill-health and an increase in the number of diabetics in particular.

Duraisamy hopes to grow some Ragi so that the dosage of Pottiamma’s insulin intake could be reduced.

Earlier, everyone used to have cattle (to plough), and rice (and other) straw were used as cattle fodder in the dry months. Now, people have sold their cattle, and instead hire tractors to do the ploughing. Rice straw has become yet another “cash crop” which travels down to the plains. The price of Rice straw has therefore become prohibitive for people like Duraisamy who could earlier get it almost free from neighbours. He hopes, with his Diesel pump to be able to feed his cattle himself.

His movements are towards self sufficiency, but he is obviously at the mercy of The Market , The Finance Minister, and the price in dollars of a barrel of oil.

Fingers Crossed for his success!


7 Responses to “Duraisamy’s new diesel pump”

  1. russell Says:

    fingers crossed …..lovely reading!…thanks
    they are saying curry leaf is good for diabetes ..its on google….but of course the older way was best

  2. Sunny Meeta Says:

    I have similar diet story from the village Kaladera we have been going for last 16 years.
    Earlier Rice was eaten only twice a year and children ran around the village proclaiming rice was cooking! Only during Diwali and Holi. Wheat was one on the food crops mixed with Jau,Chana and at other times bajra and jowar. Now kids hate to have anything except Rice and wheat.Earlier buttermilk was available for free now its paid for.There is lots of cows and buffaloes but in summer all cows are left wild as less fodder.
    Similarly many local berries and vegetables have gone out of the diet.These monocultures of food habits is an epidemic.

  3. Sunny Meeta Says:

    You mentioned Harda.Are there Harda trees there? Harda is used as the basis of all natural dyeing.It has natural tanins.Terminalia Chebula is used in tonnes in Rajasthan for block printing and natural dyeing.If you ferment waste iron with molasses for a couple of weeks.Use that solution with Harda paste,you have a black printing ink for fabric!

  4. sunder and sonati Says:

    Plenty of Harda trees around. The locals say that there were forests of them which have all been finished off now.

    There is an enormous stump on our land which someone chopped after we bought our land and before we got here.

    We have many small ones growing on our land now: really lovely trees.

    Our roof rafters are of Harda! Imagine! 4″x2″x7’…Some 150 such: What luxury!

    Sonati will try your recipe for Black dye, I am sure.

  5. Sunny Meeta Says:

    Just clarifying-you have to use Harda seed powder,not the wood or bark.

  6. Madhu Says:

    Great way of sharing information about the local env and people with the rest of the world. Do keep up the enthu and keep posting.

    Wish there was something we could do about the big picture problem… let me know if there is.

    More power to Duraisamy and his fight for self-sufficiency!

  7. saurav borgohain Says:

    terrific reading. Many new things can come up by knowing all the natural resources availability.

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