J. George was about 21 years old when he decided to become a farmer. Now 61, never once did he regret his decision. ''Taking up farming can never be a mistake,'' he says with conviction.
On Friday, Agriculture Minister P. Prasad announced Mr. George, from Venniyoor in Thiruvananthapuram district, as the winner of the 2021 State-level ‘Haritha Mithra’ award for the best vegetable farmer.
These days, Mr. George grows banana and a variety of vegetables—snake gourd, cucumber, bitter gourd and string beans included—in close to 10 acres at Pallichal. The veteran farmer says he is thrilled to have won the State-level award, his first in 40 years as a farmer. ''You feel so happy after taking a walk through the farm in the mornings. It clears the mind, rids you of all worries,'' he says.
Mr. George says he tries to stick to traditional methods in farming, which has paid off. ''Nowadays the old methods are slowly making a come-back in the sector.''
In his late teens, Mr. George worked as a mason. But even back then, he had harboured an interest in farming and soon decided to try his hand at growing 'nendran' banana. That was the beginning.
Farming, says Mr. George, is never a loss-making enterprise. He says he depends on agriculture as his sole source of income, and encourages young people to take it up as their life's work. ''You might face some loss when you start out, but you must keep at it. With farming, you need to be really sincere to get something back from it,'' he says.
Mr. George is married to Shobhana, who also assists him on the farm. The couple has three children; Christopher, Shibi and Sherly.