Think rice cultivation, and among the first images to spring to mind is of vast expanses of green paddy fields. But Dileep Kuttichal claims to be able to offer another definition altogether.

For the past five years, he has successfully managed to harvest this staple grain from the confines of his terrace and a portion of his feat was on display at the Institution of Engineers here on Monday evening.

He is one of the farmers who coordinate with Agri friends Krishi Smarakshana Vedi – the organisation which arranged a gathering to celebrate ‘Medam 1’, the start of the Malayalam New Year and the festival of ‘Vishu’.

Dileep was able to cart with him only five large sacks filled with dense soil all the way from Kuttichal outside the city limits. Shoots of rice paddy grew tall out of them. “You should see them clustered together on my terrace,” he said, adding that he grew nothing less that the famed ‘Navara’ rice – a variety that is endemic to parts of the State and boasts of several nutritional properties.

His contribution occupied only a corner of the rich spread of fruits, vegetables, grain and ‘Kanni konna’ flowers that were arranged in front of the office building. Beans, gourds, cucumber, spinach, brinjal, cashew fruit and nuts, plaintain, and ‘Chambekka’ were among the long list of traditional produce that formed part of overflowing display. They depleted in no time too, as visitors filled bags and car boot spaces with the yield that Agri friends claimed was devoid of any chemical pesticide.

Advisor to Chief Minister L. Radhakrishnan, State Horticultural Mission Director K. Prathapan and additional Director of Animal Husbandry R. Udayavarman were also present.

Even as the heavy afternoon downpour drove everyone indoors, the farmers had to turn skywards in relief as ‘Vishu’ was also the time they begin sowing seeds for this year’s crop.

Others in the city, however, were not too enthused by the rain.

Ganesh, from Balaramapuram, said he only got those few hours in the afternoon on Vishu evening to make a profit from selling Kanni Konna flowers.

He surfaced again on the footpath near Palayam only around 5 p.m. “We have lost time and the flowers are soggy and look wilted,” he said, struggling to strike a decent price with the customers.