How 'Karshakasree' Bhuvaneshwari turned a barren land into a verdant one and reaped success

Image Credit : Special Arrangement/Manorama Online

Two-and-a-half decades of dedication, passion and hard work have finally paid off for P Bhuvaneshwari. This enterprising farmer of Marurti Gardens at Elapully in Palakkad has been chosen as Malayala Manorama’s ‘Karshakasree' — the award instituted by Malayala Manorama for honouring a person adjudged the best farmer in Kerala. She swears by the goodness of agricultural traditions and is a promoter of sustainable farming models.

How she worked wonders in her sprawling land? Bhuvaneshwari doesn’t mind getting her hands and feet dirty and works alongside the agricultural labourers at her fields. An expert in operating tractor and tiller, Bhuvaneshwari takes up multiple roles when she is in the fields. She reaped gold when she turned a barren land that had just a pH value of 4.8 into a verdant land. She cleared the weeds and gave a new lease of life to the land by enriching it with organic manure of cow dung and green leaves.

With sustainable intensive farming she cultivated two crops of paddy and single crop of sesame, horse gram and urad dal in 10 acres. Her unique farming methods are incredibly profitable as she sells these organic produces at good rate. It indeed is an amazing feat that she is able to produce up to 25 quintals of produce just by nurturing it with green leaves and organic manure. Bhuvaneshwari who invested about Rs 2 lakh for paddy farming last year earned a whopping profit of Rs 18 lakh by selling rice and rice products.

Besides two crops paddy, Bhuvaneshwari grows one crop sesame on her fields. Moreover, urad dal, horse gram and moringa and many other foreign varieties of fruits and flowering plants too are grown here on rotational basis.

The dairy on the farm is another source of instant income and fertilizer. Bhuvaneshwari sought the help of veterinary surgeon Dr Shudhodanan who advised her to ready the field by using organic manure of cow dung and sheema konna (gliricidia sepium). The soil regained its fertility and was ready to receive the crops. She relied on the lessons taught by Subash Palekar in the traditional farming methods to yield amazing produce.

Fruit trees provide shade too
Mango trees, jackfruit trees, plantain and tapioca are grown as cover crops for coconut palms. Mango and the Rare Vietnam Early Jackfruit fetch handsome returns.

Sapota, rambutan, mangosteen, avocado, orange, soursop, jujube, Ramapazham, papaya and grapes are other fruits that are grown here.

Turmeric is grown between dwarf jackfruit trees.

Animal husbandry on the sidelines
Bhuvaneshwari’s mega farm has local breeds of dairy cow, goats, hens, ducks and dogs. The dung of 10 cows is used as organic manure that nourishes the fields and agricultural lands. After taking the milk that is required for domestic use, fresh ghee is made from the remaining milk. This high-quality homemade ghee is sold for Rs 2,000 per kilo.

She makes three varieties of manure called ‘jeevamrutham’, ‘beejamrutham’ and ‘khara jeevamrutham’ using just cow dung and urine. Bhuvaneshwari sells the additional manure to earn additional income. She grows 20 goats, 3 dogs, hens, goose, ducks, pigeons, love birds and turkey too.

Moreover, Bhuvaneshwari’s fish farm sprawls in two massive ponds in two acres. Cutla and tilapia that she got from the fisheries department are currently grown in the ponds.

High–density farming
Bhuvaneshwari tries her hands in modern techniques like high–density farming to increase the yield. She studied new methods of farming from Maharashtra-based agricultural conglomerate Jain Irrigation System years ago and implemented it in her fields. Moreover, she couriers high-quality mangoes for her customers in North India and abroad.

No to chemicals
Bhuvaneshwari has kept chemical fertilizers and pesticides away from her farm for the last 20 years. She has been able to earn the trust of her customers without any high–profile testimonials or ad campaigns. However, many celebrities and noted personalities are regular visitors at her organic farm, looking for chemical-free food items. Most of the produce are bought by stores that sell organics fruits and veggies.

Value-added products, online sales
She sells rice, sesame and coconuts as value-added products. She takes online orders and ships these products worldwide. Not just rice, mangoes and coconuts but there is high demand for her organically produced ginger, turmeric, coconut oil and sesame oil.

Her farm has around 300 mango trees in eight different varieties. Bhuvaneshwari earned Rs 9 lakh last year just by selling mangoes and mango pickles. Half of the plantains are turned into delicious 'sharkaravaratti' (fried plantains coated in jaggery syrup) and plantain powder.

Farm tourism
Bhuvaneshwari's old tile-roofed houses and the upper floor of her new house have been earmarked for farm tourism. Lots of tourists including foreigners visit her farms to experience the incredible goodness of organic farming. The extremely affordable rental of Rs 900 also attracts hundreds of visitors to Bhuvaneshwari’s farms. More than income from rent, Buvaneshwari sees this as an opportunity to increase the scope and marketability of the value-added products.

Her adopted son Ani helps her in the fields and in running the farm. Retired teacher S Venkitachalapathy is her husband.

Sajith, Sabith and Sabitha Madhav are her children.

You may dial 9946718866 to book organic farm produce or to learn more about the agrarian model that is worth emulating.

The Karshakasree award carries a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh, citation and a gold medallion.

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