He explains: “Like everyone else, I did not want to just grow paddy. I started to cultivate many vegetables. I then went to the nearby town of Sirkazhi and delivered the vegetables door to door. That was sometimes difficult, as there are days when vegetables do not sell. Then, they are only left to rot.”

It was through his brother that Parthibaraj came to know of the Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS) and the existence of the Valanadu Sustainable Agriculture Producer Company (VSAPCL). CIKS was about to start a programme called “Retaining Village Youth in Agriculture”, based on the concept of integrated farming. “Through the training, I learnt many elements of farming – including goat and cow rearing, how to add value to products, how to market them, and how to approach banks for a loan,” says Parthibaraj. “There were leadership sessions as well.”

The producer company also procures vegetables from Parthibaraj, which has reduced the burden of selling the vegetables by going to the nearby town every day.