UDUPI: Amid this gloom of uncertainty and unrest wrought by the pandemic, some are worried about losing their jobs in the present, others dread an unseen future. This bunch of young men from a tiny village – Perampalli near Manipal in Udupi district – however, have channelised their hard work into farming. Unperturbed by the churn in their lives, they find new meaning and joy in paddy cultivation.
How these youngsters, who are in their 20s, caught up with each other and got involved in growing paddy is an interesting tale. During the initial spell of Covid-19 in February, Ivan D’Souza, who worked as a hospitality professional in Dubai, got an inkling of job risks in the future.
He decided to return to his native Udupi, accompanied by his friend from Dubai Roshan Kunal D’Souza, who also hails from Udupi. The two felt it better to do something back home rather than struggle abroad. During lockdown, finding a job in the hospitality space troubled Ivan. It was during this time, four others like him chanced upon the idea of paddy cultivation, since they had an ancestral connect with the traditional occupation.
A WhatsApp group came handy and connected the dots for Ivan and Roshan, and sent them to work in the field. The group was created by Remi Roison D’Silva –a BE graduate – to which he added his friends Ivan and Roshan, apart from Royston Russel D’Souza – a supervisor in a Bengaluru-based company. This group, which would later become the launch-pad for their farming activities, also had Joseph D’Souza, Ranson D’Souza and Arvin D’Souza (also from Perampalli) regularly discussing the fun of engaging in agriculture.
Remi says realising that the pandemic would not be going away anytime soon, they began to explore the best methods of utilising their time and energy. Everybody in the group was thrilled by the lush green paddy fields in Perampalli and its surroundings. Wanting to grow paddy themselves, they first looked at lands belonging to friends and relatives left fallow from the past 3-4 years for cultivation.
The youngsters also consulted real estate owners in some instances to whom some tracts of land were already sold and requested that they be allowed to cultivate paddy in them this season, so that the land can be put to best use during the pandemic. Joseph (33), being the oldest of the group and with some knowledge about paddy cultivation, guided the others to sow the fields. The youths have together sown six acres of paddy fields, having hired tractors and sourced seeds.
Together, they have spent about Rs 60,000. With dedication and discipline, Joseph and Remi goaded the others in their team to learn their new-found skill. Gradually, they pushed towards their complete immersion in sowing, and transplantation began. Witnessing these youngsters’ resolve, phone calls are coming in from various places around Udupi suggesting that there is fallow land to be utilised for paddy cultivation, for which the group could lend a helping hand. “We have no problem visiting their fields and cultivating them from next year,” Remi says.
A WhatsApp group came handy and connected the dots for Ivan and Roshan, and sent them to work in the field.