Giant Yams Bring National Honour for City Farmer
Last November, guests who attended two weddings at Ulloor in the city were treated to a yummy dish for the ‘sadhya’; a coconut milk-based preparation of boiled White Yam. The point is, a single yam was more than enough for the weddings held ten days apart in the same household; it weighed a mammoth 230 kg!
‘’My elder daughter was married on November 7 and the younger one, on November 17. So we prepared this dish for both weddings,’’ says R Raveendran, who harvested the organically grown African White Yam. But 230 kg is nothing new for Raveendran.
He had harvested a 275 kg African Yam in 2010 which earned him a spot in the Limca Book of Records the next year.
Last week, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, honoured Raveendran with the National Innovative Farmer Award 2013-14 at the Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela. He received the award from Dr K L Chadha, deputy director general, Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).
‘’Twenty-three farmers from all over the country were honoured during the three-day mela. I was thrilled to see old newspaper cuttings and photographs of my yam harvests displayed at the venue. For a moment I wondered whether I was on earth or heaven,’’ Raveendran, who has dedicated his life to farming, says. The African Yam (Diascorea rotundata) which got him into the Limca Book was of the ‘Sreeshubhra’ variety developed by the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI) at Sreekariyam.
His ‘tryst’ with yams worthy of any self-respecting Brobdingnag farm began in a rather small way. In 2004 he harvested a 30 kg one, which made him think bigger. Next year, he graduated to 50 kg, and by 2008, had a 165 kg one. The biggest of ‘em all came in 2010 - a 275 kg yam which had him hogging headlines in the media. ‘’Dr C S Raveendran of the CTCRI encouraged me from the beginning,’’ he recalls.