Koovode: The Keezhattoor village in Kerala's Kannur district had hit the headlines over spirited protests by the farming community over a road development project. The passion for farming is so ingrained in them that they are venturing into organic practices to raise crops, especially under the aegis of the Keezhattoor Vegetable Cluster. Today, they swear by organic farming and sweat it out on the fields to produce pesticide-free vegetables despite significant odds.
The hard work of farmers of the cluster here is for all to see. The hillside is replete with cucumbers, bitter gourds, chillies, long beans and pumpkins, among others. Chemical fertilizers are kept away and instead, the veggies are being cultivated using cow dung, dried leaves, quick lime and other organic fertilisers.
The veggies are being cultivated on 10 hectares of land which includes the 5 hectares of the cluster and the rest belonging to farmers. The Krishi Bhavan at Taliparamabu is guiding the farmers.
Apart from cultivating vegetables on their own land, the farmers have also taken land on lease for farming purposes. The farmers are happy that they got a good price for their produce at a local fair known as ‘Ponnumvila’ mela.
The farmers persevered even as they faced searing heat during the sowing of seeds and rains during the flowering of plants. The recent heavy rains likely washed away nutrients in the soil and this has adversely affected the cultivation of vegetables. Though there will be a dip in vegetable harvest, the farmers are eyeing the Onam festival market.
Sreedevi and her husband K V Kunjiraman are worried as their cultivation of bitter gourd on 3 acres of land didn’t take off as expected as rain, heat and insects turned out to be the couple’s bane.
Farming is a family affair for Rajeesh, his mother Janaki and his sister Sreedhari. Their lives always revolved around vegetable cultivation for years and the trio will be on the field right from sunrise. Rajeesh’s mother and sister return home by evening, but he stays back to guard his farming land against attacks from wild boar and peacocks at night. The menace from birds is pretty high during day time too.
The bird attacks had decreased after tying the reflective ribbon, sourced from Krishi Vigyan Kendra, around the vegetable farm, said agriculture officer K Swapna.
Agriculture assistants K Sajeev and K Jayarajan help the farmers associated with the vegetable cluster which is headed by Gopalan and TP Bhargavi.
A couple of years ago a people's outfit known as 'Vayalkilikal', literally translating as 'paddy birds', had led an agitation against the construction of a part of the national highway through the fields in Keezhattoor.