KOCHI: N ot everyone is blessed with green fingers. And many of those who are, never bother to put their blessings into use. But, 79-year-old M N Balakrishnan Nair is among the very few who finds joy in growing plants.
Farming is in Balakrishnan’s blood. And on his two-acre farm at Kakkanad, he has been growing vegetables for the past 70 years. “I began by helping my father plant saplings, watering them and taking care of them,” says Balakrishnan.
Not surprisingly, he nurtures the plants like his own children. He has even constructed a pond and canals to irrigate his farm and uses organic fertilisers like cow dung, bone powder and vegetable waste. “I used to have a dairy farm and utilised the cow dung as fertiliser. But now I procure it from a neighbour,” says Balakrishnan.
According to him, natural fertilisers may be slow to act, but are effective in the long run, just like ayurvedic medicines. He says, “A major portion of the produce is used to meet the family’s needs.”
The produce includes banana, tapioca, chilly, snake gourd, bittergourd, brinjal, ivy gourd, pappaya, ash gourd and pumpkin. “I find beans the easiest to grow and nutmeg a hard nut to crack,” says Balakrishnan.
The farmer, who was awarded the Mathrika Karshakan award in 2008 by the Thrikkakara Gramapanchayat Karshikabhavan, says, “If there is surplus, I sell it. I am not interested in profit.”
Interestingly, Balakrishnan, who used to grow paddy, was forced to convert the fields into a farm due to labour shortage. “High wages and shortage of labour forced me to abandon paddy cultivation,” he says.