IDUKKI: A farmer in Valiyathovala in Kattappana has proved that cultivation of apples need not necessarily be confined to cool, hilly areas. Biju Kunjumon, a photographer-turned-farmer, grows four varieties of apples in his one-acre farm. He says they can be grown successfully even in plain, tropical areas in the state with temperatures as high as 40 degree Celsius in summer.
Supported by friends, Biju arranged suitable apple varieties from Jammu, and has nurtured 400 apple trees. Now they have started flowering too. The four varieties in Biju’s ‘Miracle Farm’ are Summer Zone, Anna, Dorsett and Tropical Sweet. He has nine other apple varieties too. Preserving the ‘mother plant’, he experimented by grafting the scion (young shoot) and created a nursery for apple trees, from where he is distributing grafted saplings across the state to those interested.
Biju has applied the ‘ultra-high-density’ farming method to grow varieties that require less space but yield twice as many apples as in normal farming. “My effort is to prove that fruits dismissed as unsuitable to our climatic condition and terrain can be grown with patience,” he says.
Having received the Karshakothama award in 2019, and the Karshakathilak award in 2020, he is also giving classes to farmers across the state on innovative techniques in farming.