In many agricultural Universities and colleges it is common to see buildings named after some illustrious personalities.
But in a small village called Settukkunnu in Pozuthana Grama Panchayat, Wayanad, a farming school has been named after a progressive farmer called Mr. Eldho Baby.Positive attitude
“The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Kalpetta, Wayanad, realised the potential of Baby who through his contagious positive attitude towards natural system of farming, was able to influence several farmers in the area to take up organic cultivation. As an honour for him we decided to construct a school in his land, and named it after him.
“Till date nearly 2,000 people have visited the farm school including visitors from foreign nations such as Britain, Estonia and Russia. The school is operating with the financial support provided by a nationalised bank,” says Mr. N. Anil Kumar, Director of the Institute.
The school is very popular in the region and has become a landmark for tourists and travellers.
With just an acre bordered by thick forests on all four sides, Mr. Baby is able to generate Rs. 40,000 a month from his farm.
Major crops cultivated are coffee, arecanut, pepper, ginger, turmeric and cardamom. Annual crops like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, cow pea, brinjal, tomato and amaranthus generate daily income.
In addition the farmer maintains thirteen cows, three goats, eight units of rabbits and 20 poultry birds. The waste generated from the dairy and goat units are used for biogas generation.
An electric pump is using to pump the biogas slurry to the fields. Since the farm is surrounded by thick forests, attack from wild animals like elephants, monkeys and boars are a regular occurrence.Animal menace
“The animals usually enter the farm during nightfall and leave by early morning. Many times I was at my wit’s end trying to prevent their entry but could not succeed. Then suddenly I got an idea. Wild animals usually keep away from human voices. They are naturally scared.
“So I kept a radio with full volume in the farm all through the night. The sound drives away the animals. I have also fitted tube-lights in the borders of the farm to prevent the entry of the animals. I find that elephants especially are frightened by the bright lights and do not enter,” he says with a smile.
Every farmer has to find his own marketing strategies to sell his products, otherwise farming will not be easy, according to him.
“In my farm I am selling 3-4 weeks old poultry chicks instead of eggs. This fetches me a good income as an egg gets only three rupees but a chick gets Rs. 50. I start planting vegetables only after ascertaining that there is a good market for them.”
The farmer has been successful in creating a name called Eldho Baby farm products in the surrounding areas and buyers readily purchase the products at premium prices.Marketing
To market farm fresh vegetables he invites the buyers to come directly to his field and pluck the vegetables directly from the plant.
All the milk produced by his cattle is being sold to a milk society, which as an incentive, allows him to buy cattle feed from them at a price lower than the market’s.
Cardamom, ginger, turmeric and pepper are processed and kept in the store room to be sold when price rises. The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council (VFPCK) is also helping him in marketing. Visitors stay in the farm school and personally see how the farmer is successfully able to earn well from his one acre.Classes
About 26 classes on various subjects on agriculture have also been conducted till date in the school. The Kerala Agriculture department through its agricultural technology management agency (ATMA) programme, linked the farm in its extension programme.
Though conferred several awards for his work, the farmer considers Karshaka Thilak award by the Kerala government, as most important because, “parents should realise the value of their children. Only then will they be appreciated by others,” he says.
Interested farmers can reach Mr. Baby at Eldho Baby farm school, Settukkunnu, Achooranum P.O, Pozhuthana Phone : 04936 250530 and Dr. Anil, MSSRF, Community Agro Bio-Diversity Centre , Puthoorvayal Post, Kalpetta, Wayanad, email: firstname.lastname@example.org , mobile: 09446537019, phone: 04936-204977, 207019.
Keywords: Eldho Baby farming school