The GRG model farm in Vedapatti. Photo: M. Periasamy
Diwan Bahadur P.S.G. Rangaswamy Naidu (1882-1947 ) was a visionary. He was a learner all his life and he made use of technology in every sphere. The PSG family was originally into agriculture and they made a fortune around the First World War. P.S.G.Rangaswamy Naidu, took special care of the farms in his care at Vedapatti and at the Gandamanaickanur Zamin. He was proficient in both the theory and practice of agriculture. He was in constant touch with the Agricultural College Research Institute at Coimbatore and if a new strain of seed or any new method of cultivation came up in the institute he tried it out immediately.
Coimbatore was the gift of River Noyyal and the network of water bodies near the Chithirai Chavadi channel included the Kolrampadhy, Pudhukulam, Narasampadhy, Krishnampadhy, Selvampadhy and Muthannankulam tanks. The colonial administrators established the Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Agricultural University and the Forest College in that part of the Coimbatore and the PSG family farmed at Vedapatti, which was in the heart of these water bodies.
Rangaswamy Naidu studied the various implements brought to the Agricultural Institute from around the world and carried innovations on them at the PSG Industrial Institute and manufactured them. His farms were well kept and the layout, planning, cropping and agricultural operations were done so perfectly that the faculty at the Agricultural Institute often went to the farm to learn about prevalent technology. C.Ramaswamy of the Indian Central Tobacco Committee used to lead a number of agri-academicians and students to this farm.
Rangaswamy Naidu kept accurate records. And from his accounts, students learnt about the cultivation, labour and other details. He put his wife Krishnammal’s brother Ramakrishnan in charge of the farm. Ramakrishnan on his part, established wonderful facilities in this 285-acre farm. The efforts paid off and the farm became a garden of fruit trees, paddy fields, granaries of millets and cash crops which attracted visitors such as the Maharaja of Mysore! When, G.R.Varadarajan (1924-1973) the fourth son of Naidu returned after his education at Stanford University, USA, in 1952, the farms came under his care.
The records at the farm from the year 1954 are interesting to study. Water was pumped from the six wells and stored in high-level tanks. They were distributed through underground cement pipes. Paddy , cholam , ragi , cumbu , cotton , sugarcane and plantain were cultivated . The records also show the period of planting, irrigation and other details. The farm employed two clerks, four maistries, two drivers, one electrician and 40 permanent labourers. All of them were provided free accommodation and breakfast every day plus a shirt and dhoti for Deepawali. They were paid in cash and kind. A full time veterinary surgeon, Dr.S.Natarajan, took care of the livestock which numbered 506 as per the records. They included cows, calves, buffalos, bulls, sheep, goats, horses and poultry.
There is detailed record of the amount of manure used per year too – about 20,000 cart loads! The stock of implements and equipment are also meticulously recorded. The lowest salary was about Rs.4 and it went up to Rs.115, plus grains.
The farm used natural manure alongside modern fertilizers. Even details of weeding and irrigation are well-recorded. The farm was thus managed by G.R.Varadarajan whose brothers were G.R.Damodaran, G.R.Govindarajulu and G.R.Venkatesalu.
The seeds of agricultural innovation sowed by P.S.G.Rangaswamy Naidu added much to the agrarian developments. The fascinating records can be an inspiration, even for agriculturists today.
(Rajesh is passionate about his city and is always looking for ways of documenting its history)