KOCHI:For Jibin Thomas, quitting his high-profile, high-paid job in the US to satiate his intense zeal for farming was a watershed moment. Today, this young agripreneur from Irapuram in Ernakulam district has blazed a trail in polyhouseprecision farming, which grows and supplies organic vegetables to the local markets.
“After completing my hotel management degree, I worked with major hotels in Kerala and overseas. But, even when I was working in the US, I always kindled in me the desire to return. And when the right time came, I flew back to Kerala to try my hand at farming,” he says.
“It all started when my kids - Aleena and Alen - brought home vegetable seeds distributed at their school as part of a government scheme. We planted the seeds in our yard and it gave a good yield. Then I thought of extending farming to more areas of land. In 10 cents of land, we built a polyhouse and within six months we could plant the first set of seeds,” he adds.
“Of late, there is a huge demand for farm-fresh vegetables, as people are more health conscious. So finding a market for vegetables was a cakewalk. I used to sell the products directly to the supermarkets in Muvattupuzha and Perumbavoor and to nearby shops. My neighbours and friends directly purchased from us,” he says.
Vegetable farming has traditionally been confined to the backyard of houses. But Jibin has proved that vegetables can fit beautifully in the frontyard as well. Through open precision farming, he cultivated the red lady variety of papaya, which is a huge hit in local markets.
Except for carrot and shallot, he has almost all kinds of vegetables in his front yard. Earlier, he had tried his hand at growing capsicum and a hybrid variety of tomato. But bacterial wilt played the spoilsport and ruined his chance to successfully grow them.
“During last season, we could harvest 2 tonnes of salad cucumber, 500 kg of cowpea and 200 kg of bitter gourd in 10 cents of land. We are planning to extend the farming area to increase the production. My wife and kids often assist me in farming. I am proud to be an agripreneur as we could attain self-sufficiency at least in the production of vegetables for my small locality,” Jibin says.
“We market agri produces under the brand name Johney’s Farm Fresh Veggies, as branding has become imperative to improve sales. Through providing water, fertilisers and care at the right time and in right amount, one can reap a rich harvest through polyhouse farming,” he adds.
POLYHOUSE FARMING, THE NEW TREND
Polyhouse farming is the precision method of farming, that helps farmers cultivate fruits and vegetables in a seasoned weather condition and in a protective environment. Through polyhouse farming, the cultivation of high yield vegetables throughout the year is possible. It will help farmers generate income round the year by growing multiple crops, thereby fetching good price for off-season vegetables. Polyhouses are equipped with facilities such as drip irrigation with fertigation and improved medium of soil for better growth of plants.