Farming is no ‘hobby’ for Abu Dhabi-based businessman Rohini Vijayan Nair from Vithura. Realising that the rooftop garden at his flat in Abu Dhabi is just too small for his experiments, this agri-enthusiast has now taken up farming in 100 acres of land at his hometown here.

“I needed to do a little more than terrace cultivation and thus took to farming in 100 acres of rubber plantation last year,” says Mr. Nair, who manages to juggle farming in Kerala and business abroad.

Thanks to his effort and willingness to take up farming amidst his busy schedule, the land is now full of medicinal and indigenous plants, tropical trees, and various fruit trees along with rubber trees. He has also taken up banana and cashew cultivation.

But unlike other farmers, this man wanted to make sure that his farming techniques did not, in anyway, affect the natural pattern of the soil and land. The search for a suitable farming method finally ended with the zero-budget natural farming advocated by noted agricultural scientist Subhash Palekar.

“The method involves using locally obtainable natural bio-degradable materials and traditional techniques to improve fertility. Though it is not ‘zero-budget’ here as many other factors such as the State’s climate and the labour cost have to be taken into account, it is a highly successful model,” Mr. Nair says.

Test farm

And those who need proof of how beneficial and environment-friendly the method is, Mr. Nair has a test farm. In three sections of this land, he has been using bio-fertilisers, chemical fertilisers, and ‘Jeevamritham’ (fertilizer used for zero-budget farming), separately.

“When visitors ask me how nature-friendly the technique is, I want to show them the results of the three types of farming, their pros and cons. When they see the test farm and the produce, they themselves will understand how profitable budget farming is,” Mr. Nair says. He has now joined hands with the Krishi Bhavan and has dedicated 25 acres of his land for vegetable cultivation, expecting to reap the harvest during Onam.

His date with farming does not end here. He takes classes for school children and organises field trips to his farm for them.

He says that many people have land but are not willing to cultivate. “But the younger generation is willing to listen and if we inculcate an interest in them, may be we can bring back what we have lost,” Mr. Nair says.