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Traditional Farming and Indigenous rice varieties

  • Context (DTE): Cauvery Delta farmers revert to traditional farming of Indigenous rice varieties amidst rising challenges of growing conventional crops.

Traditional farming

  • Centuries-old agricultural methods, usually practised with minimal use of modern technology or inputs. Relies on the use of local seeds and breeds, manual labour, Indigenous knowledge, etc.
  • Also focuses on natural resource utilisation and maintaining ecological balance.

Traditional Farming v/s Conventional Farming

Traditional farming

Conventional Farming

  • Uses natural inputs like organic fertilisers, crop rotation, and local varieties.
  • Relies on external inputs such as chemical fertilisers, pesticides & high-yielding crop varieties.
  • Typically more sustainable and ecologically balanced.
  • Often leads to environmental degradation due to excessive use of chemicals.
  • Small-scale, often practised by family farmers.
  • Often in large-scale industrial agriculture.
  • Have deep cultural and social significance.
  • Focuses on economic efficiency and production.
  • More resilient to economic shocks & can provide long-term benefits to farmers and communities.
  • More profitable in the short term.
  • It can help maintain soil fertility, conserve water, and preserve biodiversity.
  • Less productive than conventional methods.
  • Increased productivity and efficiency.
  • Vulnerable to environmental challenges.
  • Technologically advanced and have better crop and pest-resistant capabilities.

Indigenous rice varieties

  • Traditional rice varieties that have evolved in a particular geographic region over centuries, adapting to local climate, soil, and farming practices.
  • It can be distinguished by its physical characteristics, such as grain shape, colour, and flavour, as well as its ecological adaptability and resistance to pests and diseases.
  • Examples of Indigenous rice varieties: Mappillai Samba, Karrupu Kavuni, Thooya Malli, Thanga Samba, Kichadi Samba, Kala Jeevan, Kullakaar, Thooyamalli, Karunkuruvai.


  • Lesser water and fertilisers are needed, unlike modern varieties, which are very water intensive.
  • Ecological adaptation to the climatic and natural challenges of the region.
  • Preserve genetic diversity, which is important for the long-term resilience of agriculture.
  • Ensures a robust gene pool for future plant breeding.
  • Often have higher nutrient levels, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.


  • Low yield initially compared to other varieties.
  • Susceptible to diseases.
  • Lack from the government and other organisations.
  • Market challenges arise as crops may not be in high demand.
  • Vulnerable to climate changes.
  • Continued cultivation leads to reduced genetic diversity.
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