State Seed Farm in Kochi gears up for Onam with an assorted seedlings tray and a dance

“Onam is simply 60 days away and other people can begin rising greens and flowers to be prepared in time for the pageant,” says Lisymol J. Vadukkoot, Assistant Director of Agriculture on the State Seed Farm (SSF) in Aluva.

The farm has launched a Thiruvonam assorted seedling tray (priced at ₹300), which has 98 cubicles containing the saplings of greens and fruits important for the pageant. On sale on the Eco Store on the Metro Rail Station Aluva, it comprises eight kinds of greens (brinjal, bitter gourd, tomatoes, pumpkin, chillies, and girl’s finger) and 4 to 5 kinds of flowers (marigold, chrysanthemum, and bachelor’s button). “It required planning to place it collectively,” says Lisy, including that “it has obtained a thumping response.” She advises consumers to sow immediately, because the thiruvathira njatuvella (the very best time for planting), in line with the Malayalam calendar, has simply concluded (July 5).

I determine to go to the farm and meet Lisy at an inside street, just a few kilometres from Desom Junction. Accessible solely by boat, the farm is flanked by the Periyar and its rivulet, the Thoombathode. Unfold over 13 acres, the land primarily produces seeds for paddy cultivation. It additionally homes a rice museum and plots for farm tourism.

A slushy pathway results in a stream with a raft hitched to a hook on the bottom and an archaic ferry system. A rope stretched throughout the banks and pulled by passengers propels us throughout. “It’s zero-energy journey,” says Lisy, as we disembark on the alternative facet the place a novel crop of floating paddy grows in bamboo frames on the water.

“Our speciality is that we produce uncommon and endangered kinds of conventional rice,” says Lisy. These embody the rakthashali, wealthy in antioxidants and supposedly the weight loss program of queens; the golden Njavara rice used primarily for “karkidaka kanji” or the fortified rice gruel common through the monsoon season; the Jaiva rice that produces virtually 800kg of rice from 20kg of seeds; the Japan Violet, a standard selection from Kasargod, which has distinctive purple leaves; and others corresponding to Vellathondi, Chettadi and improved Pokkali varieties. One other fascinating variety is the Kumol Saul from Majuli island of Assam, “which is ready by easy soaking in water.”

Kerala’s seed farms

There are 33 Kerala authorities seed farms within the State and two- Aluva and Okkal- in Ernakulam district. SSF was transferred below the Ernakulam District Panchayat in 1994. Although on a gradient greater than Aluva city the farm was affected within the 2018 Kerala Floods, with the water degree marked on the workplace wall.

Because the farm additionally makes value-added merchandise like natural progress promoters, pest repellents, and flowering brokers, consumers are inspired to plant the saplings with a pinch of VAM (Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza), a biofertilizer utilized in sustainable agriculture. “We advise them to use bio slurry as soon as the plant is regular after which a weekly software of in-house made ‘kunjapala’ made with desi cow dung, bone meal, rice husk and coconut cake, and panchagavyam (a mixture of desi cow dung, curd, jaggery, tender coconut water and banana), “as soon as the vegetation flower. It’s for top yields,” she explains.

In 2019, the farm had a equipment comprising Njavara rice and herbs for the preparation of karikkadam kanji however, because of the failure of the crop as a consequence of excessive winds within the final two seasons, they might not do it this yr.

Farm tourism

With its pure scenic magnificence, the farm has grow to be a sizzling spot of farm tourism. An expanse of inexperienced meets the attention if you step out into the open. The land is split into blocks, every with paddy in numerous levels of progress. A flock of duck peck by way of the watery slush the place the paddy grows and indigenous breed of cows graze quietly. Dragonflies, birds and butterflies hover over paddy sheaves. “The geese are despatched into the fields to show the soil,” explains Lisy.

A group from Cochin Shipyard planting paddy at the State Seed Farm in Aluva, Kochi

A gaggle from Cochin Shipyard planting paddy on the State Seed Farm in Aluva, Kochi
| Photograph Credit score:
Particular association

On the far finish the place the vast Periyar flows is the Centenary Gate inaugurated in 2019. A stroll all the way down to its banks is below an arcade lined with the vines of the air potato. Shiny purple chillies and fats maroon okra grasp from overgrown vegetation that line the stroll “prepared for de-seeding”. The Indigo plant is lush and its leaves are used to color to hair oil made right here.

The only way to reach the State Seed Farm in Aluva is by boat

The one strategy to attain the State Seed Farm in Aluva is by boat
| Photograph Credit score:
Particular association

Till final yr, the drying of harvested paddy and extracted seeds was hampered by the rains. So the farm invested in a photo voltaic dyer and a polycarbonate hothouse, which they now additionally use to dry greens and powder them at allied mills. 

In Could, a gaggle from Cochin Shipyard had a discipline day on the premises. “We informed them about natural sustainable cultivation. They planted paddy in a complete block, and whereas sowing, everybody sang and danced. The farm lifts everybody’s spirits. It’s a excellent getaway,” says Lisy, including that they’ve had virtually 30 teams for a farm go to since final yr.

Dance for Onam

For the primary time, the 12 ladies employees on the farm are practising a dance for Onam.  “After I joined, six years in the past they have been unmotivated; there was a number of misunderstandings. Right now they’re all mates and, for the primary time, will current a dance as a troupe. We’re all practising day by day,” says Lisy.

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