KOCHI: Sisters Sivapriya J S and Haripriya J S hailing from Attingal in Thiruvananthapuram actively farm on 80 cents of land, while also regularly attending school. The teenagers took to farming five years ago when their family was dragged down by a severe financial crisis. They are now successfully generating revenue and keeping their family’s finances afloat.
In the beginning, they cultivated legumes, snake gourd, cauliflower, cucumber, cabbage, tomato, and pudina in jute bags in 10 cents of land around their house. “Our father is a daily wage labourer. He brings us jute bags from the worksite. We spread soil mixed with poultry manure, vegetable waste and goat manure into the bags and then plant the seeds,” says Haripriya, a Class IX student.
When the landowners in the neighbourhood witnessed the family’s enthusiasm, they gave them an extra 80 cents to farm on. “The land is owned by three people. When we reap enough yield, we give them a portion of vegetables. They have been a huge support,” says Sivapriya, a class XI student. The teamwork of the family has resulted in good yields and so far, they have never had to halt cultivation.
In the past five years, farming has indeed become a major source of income for this family. They have regular customers who buy directly from them. The excess goes to the local market. “In the beginning, we used to carry vegetables and stand in front of faculty staffrooms, awaiting our teachers. As kids, it was embarrassing. We missed out on playtime and morning assembly. Now when we think back, we are proud to have done what we did to make life better for our family,” says Haripriya.
The sisters use organic fertilisers like pachila kashayam, and veluthulli kashayam that maintain the nutrient balance and healthy growth of plants. “There is no scientific application. We farm in our own way with limited resources. It is an inexpensive method. Members of an online farming community we are part of helps us with the knowledge,” adds Sivapriya.
Like most other farmers, they have also faced adversities during natural calamities. “This was the only thing that saved our family during the financial crisis. Seeing the result of our hard work on the field keeps us motivated,” says the duo. The young farmers have received the Kutti Karshaka award from their panchayat. Haripriya had won third prize in the Mathrubhumi seed programme for planting vegetables in a half-cent land.