Housewives-turned-farmers in Kerala reap the benefits of organic farming – The New Indian Express


Express press service

PATHANAMTHITTA: The four of them were like the way housewives usually are – with cooking as the world. But the August 2018 deluge damaged all the crops in the area. And it also changed their lives. Thanks to the Department of Agriculture, they now form a fairly popular band of organic farmers in their village. Meet friends Jayasree Harikumar, 42, Vidya Jayaprakash, 42, Geetha Jayakumar, 50, and Savitha Jayakumar, 38, all residents of Thalayar on the banks of the Varattar River in Kuttoor, Tiruvalla. “We never thought we would become farmers,” says Vidya.

“There was a time when we could only prepare curries in our kitchens if we had vegetables, like many housewives. But the flood of 2018 reversed the course of our lives as all the crops in the village were damaged. After the disaster, agriculture department officials launched a campaign to bring villagers back to farming.

“Their words gave us new perspectives and opened a window of opportunity to redefine our lives. So we decided to put on the farmers’ shoes,” she says. And now they grow organic vegetables on nearly one acre of land “Life is good because we are busy growing, protecting and marketing our crops. We are also learning new trends in agriculture,” Vidya points out.

The main crops that women grow are bitter gourd, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, chili, cucumber, elephant yam, lady finger, plantain, pumpkin, squash snake, striped squash, tomato, peas and spinach. “Although we all graduated, we couldn’t find jobs. Our kitchen was our world. Now we are able to contribute a small income to our families each month. Each of us earns 5,000 rupees a month while we only spend three hours a day on our farmland,” says Vidya.

Farmer friends say that the grama panchayat and Krishi Bhavan provide all the support needed to continue farming. The Krishi Bhavan provides them with free seeds and saplings. Manure is also provided at a subsidized rate by the department.

“Agricultural Officer Thara Mohan and Assistant Agricultural Officer Biju P are always available to help make farming a success,” says Jayasree. They now cultivate the land belonging to their families. But with their produce in high demand, the friends plan to rent more land to expand their vegetable production.

PATHANAMTHITTA: The four of them were like the way housewives usually are – with cooking as the world. But the August 2018 deluge damaged all the crops in the area. And it also changed their lives. Thanks to the Department of Agriculture, they now form a fairly popular band of organic farmers in their village. Meet friends Jayasree Harikumar, 42, Vidya Jayaprakash, 42, Geetha Jayakumar, 50, and Savitha Jayakumar, 38, all residents of Thalayar on the banks of the Varattar River in Kuttoor, Tiruvalla. “We never thought we would become farmers,” says Vidya. “There was a time when we could only prepare curries in our kitchens if we had vegetables, like many housewives. But the flood of 2018 reversed the course of our lives as all the crops in the village were damaged. After the disaster, agriculture department officials launched a campaign to bring villagers back to farming. “Their words gave us new perspectives and opened a window of opportunity to redefine our lives. So we decided to put on the farmers’ shoes,” she says. And now they grow organic vegetables on nearly one acre of land. “Life is good because we are busy growing, protecting and marketing our crops. We also learn about new trends in agriculture,” Vidya points out. The main crops the women grow are bitter gourd, eggplant, cabbage, cauliflower, chili, cucumber, elephant yam, lady finger, plantain, pumpkin, snake gourd, ridged gourd, tomato, peas and spinach. “Although we all graduated, we couldn’t get jobs. Our kitchen used to be our world. Now we are able to contribute a small income to our families every month. Each of us earns 5,000 rupees per month while we we only spend three hours a day on our farmland,” says Vidya. Farmer friends say that the grama panchayat and Krishi Bhavan provide all the support needed to continue farming. The Krishi Bhavan provides them with free seeds and saplings. Manure is also provided at a subsidized rate by the department. “Agricultural Officer Thara Mohan and Assistant Agricultural Officer Biju P are always available to help make farming a success,” says Jayasree. They now cultivate the land belonging to their families. But with their produce in high demand, the friends plan to rent more land to expand their vegetable production.

Previous A Q&A session with Tide Lines. Interview with the Scottish Highlands Quartet.
Next Visit from India to FiBL - productive knowledge exchange to strengthen organic agriculture in India