Even as more people from agrarian backgrounds leave the profession embodied by their fathers and grandfathers, one couple from Edachery, Thondarnadu in Wayanad stand out as a stark contrast by pursuing farming with an unheard passion.
Kunjiraman and Pushpa, who belong to a tribal community, have not just set an example for the next generation of farmers but also practice farming in a seemingly unconventional manner. Acquiring barren mountainous terrains for a lease, the duo put their blood and sweat and convert these lands into fruitfully yielding farms.
From plantain and ginger to long beans and bitter gourd, they find their source of income solely through agriculture and spend their entire day working on the farm.
During summers, they live on the hill to lend undivided attention towards the crops. Since there is no provision for irrigation, they have to carry water from a km away and then trudge all the way to the top to water the plants.
Audio-vocally impaired since birth, Kunjiraman doesn’t let anything prevent him from farming, which is further accentuated by the unfaltering support he finds in the form of his wife. Previously having worked in a tea estate, Kunjiraman switched to full-time farming for he wanted to start providing for his family.
Starting out with an acre of land of their own, the couple realized that to have sufficient income they would need to cultivate in a larger space. Paying Rs. 7000 for an acre per year, their farm stretches across three acres of land where one can find over 3000 plantains and about 1000 plants of long beans and bitter gourd each. Alongside, an acre has been dedicated to cultivating ginger.
Though the family had many financial liabilities–including agricultural loans–initially, the profits from the farm helped them settle all the dues. From plantain cultivation alone, they earn a yearly income of Rs. 4.5 lakh.
Interestingly, the plantain variety cultivated by Kunjiraman and Pushpa is different from the one that is usually cultivated and harvested by farmers during monsoons. This variety, in turn, is harvested in summer and with the couple’s bountiful harvest of the same, more farmers have begun to cultivate the variety.
Kunjiraman and Pushpa have two children, Anjana and Ajin, who study in classes 8 and 4, respectively and live in a small house nearby. They aim to construct a new house in the future in place of the old house they currently inhabit.