Thirteen-year-old Banupriya M.S. is super-excited that she will be reaping the fruits of her hard work on Saturday.
The young girl, a resident of Kallapuram in Muhamma, will harvest Rakthashali, a nearly extinct variety of rice that she cultivated jointly with her father on 75 cents of karapadam (upland rice field), in the presence of Agriculture Minister P. Prasad and grama panchayat and Agriculture Department officials.
“It is my first shot at paddy farming. I never thought it would be a great success. Everyone says it is going to be a bountiful harvest and I am eagerly looking forward to the end product of four months of hard work,” says Bhanupriya, standing beside the ready-to-harvest paddy crops.
Winner of an award instituted by the Agriculture Department for the best child farmer in Muhamma grama panchayat in Alappuzha, she ventured into paddy farming after getting inspired by her father Dayatmaji M.N., a successful farmer.
“Farming the Rakthashali variety was the idea of my father. I joined him to kill boredom during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. After finding it interesting, I became more and more involved in the cultivation of paddy,” says Bhanupriya, a Class VIII student of Government DVHSS, Charamangalam.
The father-daughter duo has grown Rakthashali, which is supposed to have high medicinal value, in an organic way.
Mr. Dayatmaji says 60% of the overall work, including sowing, dewatering and applying manure, has been done by her daughter. “We have cultivated Rakthashali, which is not common in this part of the region, on an experimental basis. Apart from preparing the field using a tractor, all the other works were done by us. She had been gloomy as she was unable to go to school due to the pandemic, and farming helped her rediscover some vitality,” says Mr. Dayatmaji .
According to Agriculture Department officials, Bhanupriya’s involvement in the cultivation of a rare rice variety helped her bag the prize. “From our side, we have provided all help to the father-daughter duo. We can say that the Rakthashali farming is a success,” says Rakhi Alex, Agricultural Officer, Muhamma.
Rakthashali with red husk and grain is considered uneconomical compared to some high-yielding rice varieties.