Sreedharan Mayanad, 45, a farm trainer in Kozhikode district, never refers to books to impart skills on organic farming. His vegetable farm at Thadambattuthazham speaks for itself. The only tip that he gives to farm enthusiasts who approach him to get a better understanding on farming is to work hard.
Shoppers can pluck fresh vegetables with medicinal quality, including neykumbalam, green chilli and spinach, both red and green, directly from his farm. This novel and thrilling experience attracts several visitors with family to his farm.
Sreedharan’s love for farming began at the tender age of nine.
Following in the footsteps of his father, a traditional vegetable farmer in Mayanad, Sreedharan initially tried his luck at tapioca cultivation.
“Tapioca was the first root vegetable that attracted me to farming,” he goes down memory lane. "When I was a child I used to go on an errand for my neighbours. The remuneration I received for the first time was a bunch of tapioca. From then on I was much attracted to the vegetable,” he smiles.
Apart from chilli and banana, he grows bittergourd, cucumber, yam, ladies finger and many more.
His next mission is to make Swarnamukhi, a high-yielding banana variety popular among Kozhikodens.
Ignorance over farming is what keeps several youngsters away from farming.
Speaking from his experience, Sreedharan says, “Once the quality of each variety is revealed, local farmers will embrace it with open arms. I was surprised to understand that most of the farmers in the district still do not know the proper way to plant a sapling. At present he is one of the most sought-after farm trainers in the district. I have been offering training classes from 2006. I do not need a book or a dictionary to make the people aware of traditional farming techniques. For me experience is the best teacher.”
Accolades came his way when he proved his success in cultivation. The Best Farmers Club Award instituted by NABARD was bestowed on this farmer-cum-in-charge of Mayanad cluster in 2012.
Though he could not complete his pre-degree owing to financial difficulties, he has no complaints about it.
“If I had received better education I might have not been this much attracted to farming,” he chuckles.
“I am highly interested in banana cultivation since it never pushes farmers to suicide,” he says.
In the coming season he is planning to plant around 2,000 banana shoots at the recently-levelled plot at the Thadambattuthazham vegetable market.
He also runs a shop at Mayanad to make available fertilisers, pesticides and saplings for the needy.
After conducting classes for housewives and farmers I encourage them to plant green chilli, curry leaves and banana shoots in their plots.