Chingam 1, or the first day of the Malayalam calendar, is celebrated as Farmers’ Day in Kerala. This year, the occasion is truly special for all the new farmers who ventured into the field during the lockdown. Here are some real success stories from the farm.
A family affair
Mini of Panakkal in Mannar started vegetable farming along with her husband Jerry and they are now reaping bumper harvests. The couple’s farm on 25 cents of land around their house yields 15 kg of vegetables every alternate day.
The crop includes long beans, cucumber, cauliflower, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrot, beetroot, capsicum, chilli used to make fries and shallot. According to Mini, the only fertilizer used is cow dung. While the long beans are sold at the nearby shops, the other vegetables are distributed among relatives and friends.
“Farming on the premises of my own house gives great satisfaction,” says Mini, a BCom graduate. After the entire yield is reaped, new crops would be planted, according to the family, comprising Mini, Jerry and their children Jeff and Jesh.
Fish breeds success
Lijo Augustine (36) of Aanithottam at Ponad in Pala prepared two ponds on the compound of his house and deposited young ones of fishes such as Nutter, tilapia and ‘vala’. Later, he built a bigger pond with the help of the panchayat under the employment guarantee scheme. At present, around 3,000 fishlings are growing in Lijo’s ponds. Lijo, who would be starting the harvest of fish from the ponds in September, also has plans to expand his effort into a commercial venture.
The priest’s farm
Fr. Kuriakose Kadavambhagom, secretary of the Kottayam diocese of the Jacobite Church, has transformed around 75 cents of land near his house into an organic farm. He planted several varieties of vegetables as well as numerous tubers on the plot. The priest’s successful effort has now earned him the award for the best organic farmer instituted by the public library at Pambady.
A green WhatsApp group
Fortunes of over 150 farmers in and around Mundakkayam changed for the better after a WhatsApp group was created during the early days of the lockdown. The group was the brainchild of Anil Kumar, owner of Sunitha Home Appliances, a shop in Mundakkayam town.
A businessman who found time for farming at his house, Anil Kumar started the group by including people known to him. With the help of Krishi Bhavan, seeds of various vegetables were supplied to these people and soon crops like spinach, lady’s finger, green chilli, brinjal and snake gourd could be harvested from their houses.
At present, the WhatsApp group has 172 members based at Mundakkayam, Kuttikkal and Peruvanthanam.
A joint effort
Unable to engage in their respective professions due to the lockdown and with nothing else to do, three youths in Changanassery decided to try their hands in fish farming. Their effort yielded a rich haul and the three youths are now planning to expand the venture.
The youths are Resh Kumar, an assistant costume designer for films; Praveen Puthuparambil, who ran a gardening business and Vishnu Paral, who operated a dental lab in Palakkad before the pandemic struck.
The first venture of the youths was in a paddy field of a one-acre area in Changanassery municipality. Its success led them to take up fish farming in five acres at Ramankary. After the second effort too earned a big catch, the youths are now preparing a three-acre area in Puthuppally for the activity.
A divine task
Fr. Jis, the vicar of Nithyasahaya Matha (Mother of Perpetual Help) Church, Palaykkattumala and a teacher at St Mary’s High School, Kuruvilangad launched organic vegetable farming on 25 cents of land around the church during the vacation. Seeds and seedlings were also planted in pots as well as grow bags kept on the terrace. The vicar soon reaped a harvest that weighed over 50 kg of organic vegetables which he gave away to everyone in need of them.
All the work at the vegetable garden, including the preparation of the ground, planting and application of manure, are done by the priest, who is the son of John and Mary of Ammanuthukunnel, Cherpunkal. Fr. Jis was ordained a priest in 2005.