Kidai herders dream of boom in organic farming
With rapid urbanisation and conversion of agricultural land into residential colonies, ‘kidai maadu’ (cattle reared for dung that is used as manure) herders are increasingly finding it difficult to carry on a tradition. Pasture lands and water sources for the cattle are shrinking by the day and cowherds, who mostly rear indigenous cow breeds, are finding it difficult to maintain their animals.
Before the advent of chemical fertilizers, dung of cow and sheep was used as organic manure in agricultural fields. A farmer those days would ask herders to bring their herd to his field for grazing for a few days so that he could make use of the dung of the animals to enrich his field. There are around 250 such herd owners in the state now, mostly in districts like Madurai, Virudhunagar, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Theni.