Malayalam television channels have always had an affinity with programmes related to agriculture and allied sectors. One of the popular programmes is Kairali TV’s ‘Bhoomigeetham’, which has completed 13 years. The show covers success stories in farming, agriculture and other areas. It has been conceptualised by Sidhartha Menon P.A., who also anchors the show. Former chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and a farming enthusiast himself, he talks about his tryst with the show. Excerpts:
Genesis of the show
I was among those who launched the channel and was an executive director on its board when our chairman, actor Mammootty, suggested that we should have a farming-oriented show. A few on the board had their reservations about it because it was a time when there weren’t many television channels or such soil-related shows. I came into the picture because I was interested in farming and it was Mammootty’s idea that I should present it. When we started out, little did we known that it would run successfully for so many years.
I do the necessary research for the show, collecting information from agricultural officers, magazines and various other sources. The aim of the show is not just to present a successful farmer. We also talk about many viable farming methods. It is from a viewer’s point of view that I present an episode and that helps us to reach out to more viewers.
In addition to various places in Kerala, we have covered farmers in Tamil Nadu and even Delhi. We don’t restrict ourselves to vegetable farming. We have featured episodes on horticulture, dairy farming, poultry farms, beekeeping, fish farming, pig rearing…
As a farmer
I belong to North Paravur, near Aluva, and whatever interest I have in farming is due to my father. In fact, during the admission for my engineering course, one of the members in the board asked about my extra-curricular activity. Since I didn’t have any, I said, ‘farming’. They found it amusing. But one of the members asked me to explain how to plant an elephant yam. The board was impressed with my explanation. And they advised me to keep alive my passion for agriculture even after becoming an engineer. That episode was an inspiration. Once I joined the KSEB, wherever I was posted, I made it a point to cultivate something or the other in the space available. Today, I have a vegetable garden and paddy cultivation at my place in Punnapra, Alappuzha district.
‘Bhoomigeetham’ has been getting tremendous feedback over the years. Actually, I get more queries from Malayalis in West Asia (Gulf) who want to know about the kind of farming they could take up once they return home.
I have learnt a lot from the people we’ve featured. It is a fact that today there is a large population out there who want to take up agriculture. I think television has played a huge role in this since most channels telecast farming-related shows. Also, many are worried about consuming pesticide-infected vegetables and fruits.
Analysing the Kerala scenario
There are unexplored sectors that need only a little effort to yield good results. There are examples such as fish farming which we shot in Ernakulam, quail rearing in Kalady, and beekeeping in Alappuzha. Ultra High Density Planning [cultivating plants under high density] and zero budget farming are other methods that need to be popularised.