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Last Updated Tuesday April 25 2017 10:17 AM IST

What nobody told this man about organic farming: it can’t make a living

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Mavoor: A.N. Marakkar has always been passionate about farming. And he loves to experiment. Working by the sweat of his brow, literally, this man from Mavoor, is blessed with a Midas touch. All that he touches turn into gold—pure green gold, fresh and unpolluted.

His enduring affair with seeds and soil began at the age of 11. It’s this passion that bestowed on him the tag of “farmer par excellence”.

Marakkar has been into farming for over four decades now. Along with traditional seeds, tried and tested, he loves to buy seeds and saplings from other states with which he experiments.

Marakkar is always on his farm or in the fields where his vegetables lie, ready for harvest. When wooden or bamboo supports are usually used to give banana plants a leg-up, Marakkar secures them with plastic ropes.

The farmer is proud of his vegetable pedigree. Banana seedlings from Wayanad, biriyani paddy, green gram, green beans and soya beans are farmed here apart from winter veggies like carrot, cauliflower and cabbage, which Marakkar brought home to Mavoor during the course of his travels scouting for seeds and saplings.

A crop of water melon has just been harvested and Marakkar is now ready with his bumper crop of okra (lady’s finger). Almost all the produce gets sold from the fields where it is harvested. Once the okra harvest gets done, it’s time to pluck the Vishu special cucumber and other seasonal vegetables. The farmer tried out Sahiba and US varieties of okra this year.

Schoolkids in Mavoor have their share of Marakkar’s organic vegetables for lunch as part of their midday-meal scheme. His name and fame have drawn aspiring farmers, curious customers and students to his farm and fields, where a lot of research is being done on his unconventional style of farming.

A good teacher, Marakkar finds time to initiate those interested, into the nuances of organic farming. Always on his farm, he’s there much before sunrise and heads back home well after sunset. Almost always, it’s he who stands guard over his yield. Marakkar is happy with the organic fertilizers and pesticides, which he himself makes and experiments with.

But, along with the joy of his bounty lies the harsh reality of meeting the finance for all his requirements. With each harvest, comes the burden of clearing loans. According to Marakkar, organic farming is fraught with pain. “With climate turning villain of the piece, it can no longer sustain a family. Add to this attack from wild animals who come in herds and go on a rampage, destroying crops.

“To tide over such unforeseen calamities, the government should have the best interests of farmers at heart. What farmers need are disease-resistant seeds and crops, fertilizers and adequate compensation. Only then can farming become a sustainable source of livelihood,” he says. Is the government listening?

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