THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The ‘man who grew the giant yam’ is now the ‘man who grows paddy on the rooftop’. Onam is round the corner, and R Raveendran is sure that there will be enough paddy to last ten days of ‘sadya.’
Like the 275 kg African White Yam which got him a place in the Limca Book of Records, paddy grown in pots on a 300-square-feet terrace is an interesting sight. There are around thirty pots, and he says each can yield half a kilogram rice. Placed on a grid-like GI structure, the pots are watered once in three days. An upland rice variety called ‘Uma’ has been used.
He seems to be in sync with the recent fad of agriculture on the rooftop. But Raveendran has been experimenting with it since 1998, and started achieving good results in 2002.
The latest that he has to share is the response of the crops to ‘Hridhayamruth’, a manure which he developed using cooking waste, leftovers, leaves of various kinds, jaggery and sardine. It does not reek of any of its ingredients. He had first used it on leafy vegetables, and later for plantain. “It yielded a 53-kilogram bunch of bananas,” says Raveendran. This year, he has figured out that it works equally well for the paddy.
For those who would like to try the ‘Hridhayamruth’, he sells it at a rate of Rs 150-Rs 250 (the money depends on the cost of making it). But he would be happy to share how to make it. In fact, he would be happy to share every trick up his sleeve.
His house at Pongummoodu would be frequented by strangers from far and wide. So it would not be unusual for the old man at the furniture shop in front of KWA, Pongummoodu, to double up as a guide.
The showcase at his house is full of accolades from renowned institutes like CTCRI and Indian Agriculture Research Institute. Agricultural Technology Management Agency recently awarded him with a cash prize of Rs 50,000 for the ‘Farmer-led Technologies’ he has contributed. The officials commented that it was not just the innovative techniques, but his will to educate others, which got him the award.
Raveendran goes to various residential associations to speak about his techniques. He would sound like he is sharing a religion, when he says, “I believe in the powers of the purple passion fruit.” He would get you a fruit to taste, just in case you don’t have faith in what he says.