Thiruvananthapuram

Former cop takes to organic farming after retirement

Prassanan G. at his rooftop farm

Prassanan G. at his rooftop farm  

Prasannan G. took to farming after retirement and finds it a full-time job

Climb up the short flight of steps to the roof of this former cop’s house, and there you have something special.

You are greeted by rows of bulbous ash gourds hanging from vines. Nearby, there are five varieties of lady’s fingers, four types of chillies, five of amaranthus (there’s one which goes by the name ‘American Cheera’ and another that’s called ‘Mayilpeeli Cheera’), and rows and rows of grow bags containing cabbages, cauliflower, brinjal, mustard, tomatoes and even oranges. All of them organically produced.

Since 2014

Prasannan G., former sub-inspector and recipient of the Chief Minister’s Police Medal, walks among the leafy rows. “I took up vegetable farming in 2014, and since then we have never had to look elsewhere for vegetables for the sadya. At the moment, I have vegetables in 250 grow bags,” the resident of Bappuji Nagar, Pongumoodu, explains. For Onam, Mr. Prasannan and his wife Vilola Devi will not have to rely on traders even for rice. Eighty pots of paddy will be ready in two weeks, 40 pots of ‘Uma’ variety and 40, of the pricey ‘Rakthashali’.

“I hope to get 300 to 400 gms from a pot,” he says. Also on the rooftop, Prasannan points out pomegranate, papaya, curry leaves, turmeric, salad cucumber, cardamom, string beans, pumpkin, dragon fruit (a foot-high planting experiment, for now), arrowroot, a young cashew tree and a coconut palm of the dwarf variety. At the ground-level yard, Mr. Prasannan has tubers, including yams and Chinese potato (Koorka).

Mr. Prasannan had decided to pursue farming after his retirement in 2011. His initial attempts were not much of a success. So, in 2014, he contacted R. Raveendran, a farmer in nearby Ulloor who had shot to fame growing incredibly huge yams. “I started using grow bags on Mr. Raveendran’s advice and it increased the yield,” he said. He also attended a course at the farm school run by Mr. Raveendran with Agricultural Technology Management Agency’s help.

Mr. Prasannan begins his routine at 7 a.m. with a visit to his rooftop farm to water the crops and check for pests. A second visit is at 4 p.m. to change grow bags and plant new saplings. Farming, he says, is a full-time job.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 6:01:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/former-cop-prepares-for-onam-organically/article28816557.ece

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