T'PURAM: A young farmer from Aluva, Sumi Shyamraj, had been reaping rich dividends by selling ornamental plants during the Covid-19 pandemic from her three cents of land. 33-year-old Sumi's determination to remain a farmer, harvesting vegetables and ornamental plants, saw her taking 16 cents of land in her neighbourhood on lease. But with a tad bit of disappointment she says "the owner of the leased land sold the plot recently", pushing her back to three cents of land.
Daughter of KK Ashokan and Saija, Sumi got into farming seeing her parent's passion towards it. Her dedication and commitment, in coming up with seedlings of ornamental and vegetable plants from a small area has reached far and wide.
Recently, actor Mammootty approached her and bought 100 Begonia's, Liang Li micro lotus and Red Peony Lotus for his new home at Vyttila in Kochi.
Cherthala Thuravoor native, Sumi had pursued a diploma in civil engineering and had also worked in the same field. But she always wanted to take up her passion which saw her chucking her well-settled job in the construction sector and plunged into organic vegetable farming.
Just before the 2018 floods, Sumi had 22 goats, 200 chickens, a cow and also a pet dog. It is surprising to note that all these were reared in her three cents of land, 'Kanisherry Chira'. While the livestock and cattle occupied ground space, Sumi put up her vegetable and ornamental plants atop her terrace.
"Majority of my livestock and cattle perished in the 2018 floods which submerged Aluva. Post floods, I decided to widen my horizon by entering into rearing and selling ornamental plants. During the height of the Covid pandemic, my plants reached almost every nook and corner of the state. This gave an opportunity to enhance my livelihood from the sale of organic vegetables", Sumi told The New Indian Express.
Her collection of ornamental plants comprises mostly Episcia, Begonia, different varieties of Anthuriums and Jewel Orchid. With pride Sumi says that if not for her husband, K S Shyamraj, who runs a tyre business, she would not have been able to collect 50 varieties of Episcia, which is a genus of flowering plants in the African violet family.
She is happy as their three-year-old daughter, Niranjana, too has shown a liking towards plants. Her videos on farming caught the attention of Nestle India Ltd which led them to honour her for the service she is doing to spread farming and also for motivating women to earn a livelihood.