Developing Auroville’s biggest farm

Annapurna Farm is Auroville’s biggest farm – its focus is organic rice and millet production as well as being Auroville’s largest dairy –  today the only certified organic dairy in South India. Tomas, Dutch, started the Farm, located 10kms from the center, in 1986 on 135 acres of black cotton soil lying barren.

Todays challenges are the drought, future development and ongoing research towards Auroville’s aim of selfsufficiency in food. More about this amazing organic farm.

Tomas says: “Integrated ecological sustainability is the fundamental management  principle  of  the  farm. The two main activities of the farm – grain cultivation and milk production – are harmoniously integrated to ensure sustainability in the long run. In other words: the field crops provide fodder for the cows, and the cows provide compost for the fields. The size of the herd is determined by the acreage of land needed by a healthy cow; the cattle is selectively bred for producing organic milk. Ecological sustainability is also ensured by the farm’s commitment to use only non-hybridized local seeds and by the sustainable use of water.”

Auroville`s rice is grown on a large scale in Annapurna,  as well as in Siddharta Farm  and Ayyarpadi Farm. Annapurna maintains the “Foodlink” granary and processes and stores grain from several Auroville and bioregional-farms.

Right now, Tomas and Andre are stewarding the farm, which is running all its daily operations with the work of 19 employees. The certified organic dairy comprises of 25 cows and a yoghurt and cheese processing unit.

Annapurnas total paddy (rice in husk) production in recent years is around 27,400 kg, which after milling gives 17,800 kg of rice. Auroville Farms produces achieves  Auroville’s demand in complete rice, but the demand in parboiled white rice is far from being reached.

Annapurna farmers Andre and Tomas describe the challenges
Failed October monsoon in Tamil Nadu

For the first time the rain water catchment ponds dug in 2002  did not fill up. The last paddy we  irrigated predominantly with deep water from our bore wells. The biggest bore wells is dry now in July, but  with this water we managed to finalise the paddy crop. The 2nd well needed a stronger pump, and new infrastructure, but it still doesn’t give much water. We are planning to make an underground water tank (sealed with a special plastic), and use the water with sprinklers rather than flooding the fields for cow grass and green manure production.

We plan to dig more rainwater catchments to secure the water supply, as Annapurna’s backup water system with two bore wells is nonfunctional now.

Training new farmers: We would like to slowly groom a new team of farmers in the years to come to make this farm continue to grow more and better food for the community. Volunteers are welcome – minimum commitment of 3 months.

Research

Research work is ongoing in regard to optimizing the yields and the functioning of the farm, as well on further mechanization –  in collaboration with a Dutch agricultural university.

Support group

In Dec 2016 a Support group for Annapurna Farm was created, to share the responsibility for the development of Annapurna farm by a small group of Aurovilians, to gather investment for expanding Annapurna’s farm activities, to enhance PR, product development etc.

Annapurna is one of Auroville’s most productive farms, with adequate investments, it is envisaged that it can triple its production

If you wish to receive regular news from this Annapurna farm, please write to annapurnafarm@auroville.org.in