Paddy harvest: ‘Oruma’ members rekindle passion for agriculture
By Express News Service | Published: 06th February 2013 11:13 AM |
When Montek Singh Ahluwalia advised the farmers in Kerala during ‘Emerging Kerala’ summit to give up paddy cultivation, a group of youngsters, mostly Dalits, in the outskirts of Kakkanad, were about to harvest paddy in a tiny piece of land.
Though hurt by the remark, the farmers, part of an agrarian collective ‘Oruma’ did not stop pursuing their passion of preserving indigenous paddy seeds and almost extinct varieties of fish that are endemic.
Based in Thuthiyoor, the collective, with 22 members, now regularly organises agricultural exhibitions.
The third such exhibition organised by the collective in Thuthiyoor,formally ended on Tuesday. The celebrated the conclusion of the event with a feast on Wednesday in which they cooked and served their own produce.
Unlike high-profile farming exhibitions organised by the government departments, this one has a distinct flavour: outstanding passion towards agriculture.
“We started organising this exhibition to assert the importance of agriculture which is increasingly getting sidelined with the progress of the construction industry and information technology,”says K K Vijayan, who initiated the formation of the group.
The exhibition had on display a huge collection of rare varieties of vegetables, fruits, medicinal plants, seeds and indigenous fish.
“Students from different schools who never had the opportunity to know about the agrarian way of life visited the exhibition in large numbers. They also spend a lot of time to clear their doubts,” said Sujith Rajan, an active member of the group.
Despite many attempts, the collective could not obtain any governmental aid. The group is conducting organic farming in the 42 cents of land jointly owned by Vijayan and his three siblings. “We used to cultivate paddy in the leased land in and around Kakkanad. But the land now lies with the real estate developers,” says Vijayan.
The exhibition also spoke volumes about the social and economic history of Thrikkakara, once considered to be the rice bowl of Ernakulam. “The paddy fields are being systematically destroyed by land speculators,” said Abhilash Ayappan, Oruma secretary.