Reaping a bounty through organic farming

By TheHindu on 10 Nov 2016 | read

Chembalam Ravi and his family at their farm in Ayyappancoil village in Idukki district.

Most farmers are not aware of the ill-effects of pesticides on plants. It can hinder its growth and flowering, says Chembalam Ravi, a traditional farmer of Urali tribe.

In his three-acre land, he along with his wife, cultivates almost all the vegetables in addition to the cash crops like pepper, rubber and cardamom.

What makes his farming different is that he does not put much stress on the soil. For weed control, he adopts the grass-cutting method and applies the bio manure not for a particular plant but for the entire soil. “It makes the soil rich and one need not apply any fertilizer prior to the planting. The weeds decay there and gives additional fertility to the soil,” he says.

His ‘malimulaku’ (yellow lantern chilly) farm, is nearing harvest. Ravi says that he has collected even nine kg of chilly from a single plant and they have more lifespan than those in the nearby farms. The chilly is an inter-crop and is sold to the local agencies for export to the Maldives.

Best farmer

At his farm in Ayyappancoil village, Ravi cultivates all the vegetables and tubers. Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) had selected him as one of the best farmers in the district in 2014 and he won the best prize for the vegetable farm at the block level.

“When there is a pest attack, I approach the Krishi bhavan for expert opinion,” he says adding that bio pesticides are used on the basis of their recommendations. “However, I apply it diluting it to a very thin solution in the water. The duration period is also reduced,” he says.

According to him, pest attack is minimum when the vegetable plants simultaneously grow along with other plants and weeds. He shows a separated ‘malimulaku’ plant with curled leaves. According to him, it was because of the effect of a pesticide application.

“I applied it only to learn how pesticide could negatively affect the growth of the leaves which makes an impact on the yield of a plant,” he says.

Ravi says plants need natural fertilizer from the soil. “Plants like any living organism do not require more than what is needed for growth. Farmers unaware of it apply more fertilizers and pesticides on the plants that makes a negative impact on them,” he says.

Ravi has cultivated carrot, beetroot, potato, strawberry, cabbage and all vegetables grown in the Vattavada and Kanthallur region. As for carrot and potato he received a better average yield per plant than those grown in other areas of the region, he says.