While taking up farming, her family’s means of support, Ramani Vengattu, a 47-year-old woman belonging to Kizhakkumbad, Kozhikode never thought that she could script success within a short period of time. At present, the lean but dynamic homemaker is a regular provider of green spinach to the Palayam vegetable market, Kozhikode.
For good quality spinach leaves, the first name that comes to the mind of the natives of Kizhakkumbad and Manjodi, Kozhikode is Ramani. “Hailing from a traditional farmers’ family, I was sure about success but not about the time it would take,” says Ramani who cultivates spinach in a 13 cent plot. Her husband Unnikrishnan, a labourer, is with her, offering whole-hearted support and guidance.
“I embarked on farming at a time when women seldom tried their luck in the field. But my husband and children encouraged me. Now plenty of women under the banner of Kudumbasree do farming here,” she says.
Her life at the farm starts at 8 in the morning. Watering spinach, de-weeding and adding manure, she inspects each and every plant in her farm. She does not use chemical fertilisers and pesticides in her farm. “My son Ranju, a civil engineering graduate, often helps me in the farm,” she says. Expressing her gratification for being part of Kizhakkumbad, one of the vegetable villages in Kozhikode, Ramani says every woman should develop a special love for farming since it is a form of relaxation. The real problem that keeps women away from farming is not misconceptions, but ignorance. In her words, to be a good farmer, a woman should find space for herself among farmers.
Though she has not received any scientific guidance in agricultural activities, she chooses the natural way of farming.
Whenever she gets a chance she shares the merits of natural farming with her friends and neighbours.
A woman named Kalyani helps her to water the spinach plants. “Though I had to come across several unhappy incidents in farming, I cannot imagine a day without agricultural activities,” she says.
She has also set up a kitchen garden adjacent to her home where almost all the vegetables are available. Ramani focuses on green spinach, considering its medicinal quality.
Apart from spinach she grows ash gourd and ridge gourd. “There are people who directly come to me to get spinach seeds. I never disappoint them as I love to spread the message of farming among people,” she says.