Youngsters wield sickles, harvest paddy under scorching sun

Hibi Eden, MP, along with social work students with the harvested pokkali paddy stalks during the Kadamakudy Village Fest that got under way on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: THULASI KAKKAT

Rajesh Tamang could not stop smiling as he stood hip-deep in the muddy water with a sickle harvesting ripe pokkali stalks at Pizhala, one of the 14 islands that made up the idyllic Kadamakkudy panchayat.

The youngster hailing from Nepal had joined the Master of Social Work (MSW) course at Rajagiri College of Social Sciences last year but could hardly explore the new place because of the pandemic.

“This is unlike anything I have experienced back in Nepal. The workers engaged in harvesting were singing all along as they enjoyed their work. That is something I would love to take back home telling my people how it is possible to enjoy hard work,” said Rajesh.

He was part of the 50-odd MSW and BSW students of Rajagiri College of Social Sciences who took part in the harvesting festival organised as part of the four-day Kadamakkudy village fest that got under way at Pizhala on Thursday.

The mostly first year students were engaged in harvesting for hours after being given tips by local experienced hands. Though completely alien to them, the youngsters who had come well prepared with spare dresses thoroughly enjoyed it after being dropped near ripe paddy stalks on a row boat.

“I have never seen so much water, coconut trees, greenery, and such hard working people. It was such fun and a brilliant experience except for the part of standing in muddy water,” said Bobby Benny, a student from Delhi.

His classmate Shrishti Sharma was so bowled over by what she described as the “loveable people”. Despite not knowing the language, she could be seen trying to chit-chat with local people.

As impressed they were with the experience, both the youngsters were sure that they could not replicate it back home. “Here, people are prepared to engage in hard labour irrespective of their positions. We could see our teachers and even people’s representatives getting down to muddied waters, which is never going to happen at our place,” they said.

Obviously, the youngsters, especially from outside the State, were impressed by Hibi Eden, MP, giving them company during the harvesting under a scorching sun. They posed with sickle and stalks as their friends kept clicking away.

“We are planning to organise similar harvesting festivals to attract more youngsters and create awareness about farming. We have had among these students who have never even visited a paddy field,” said Mary Shilpa, District Agriculture Officer.

Rajeev S.P., assistant professor, Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, said the field trip was part of the immersive learning concept propagated by the institution.

“Social sensitisation attaching value to work is a crucial aspect, and such field trips help engender it in students. It also introduced them to better practices, in this case like pokkali rice, which is a climate-resistant variant,” he said.

Suresh Babu, an experienced farming hand who was busy guiding the youngsters, was happy about the good yield this year thanks to favourable conditions, including the timely setting in of monsoon. Timely monsoon to clear the field of salinity is crucial for the sowing and harvesting cycle between June and October when shrimp farming sets in.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 5:05:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/youngsters-wield-sickles-harvest-paddy-under-scorching-sun/article37222492.ece

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