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Prakash gram; A ray of hope

A farmer works hard on the soil and reaps gold from it. He cultivates varieties of crops and vegetables and raises animals for milk, eggs, meat etc. He may either work on his land or work as a labourer. Here we come across a farmer who puts his ideas into practice and thereby tastes the sweetness of success. K. Ramesan enjoys his retired life from government service with his passion, farming.

He cultivates turmeric, cardamom, pepper and so on. He resides in the high range of Idukki in the Thookupalam area. His predecessors were farmers. They had very fertile land, which gave them good yields. Due to the un-scientific agricultural methods, overuse of chemical fertilisers, climatic changes, floods, and droughts made the fertile soil barren. This made the farmers switch to new job areas. As Dr Swaminathan, the leader of the green revolution points out, ‘‘If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country’’. Like that Ramesan, along with his friends, decided to bring their once fertile land back. They with the help of a group of people and the cooperation of various agriculture departments started a new venture ‘Prakash Gram Spices Farmers Society.’ It is a ray of hope to fellow farmers of his place. Under ‘Prakash Gram’, farmers like Ramesan and others cultivated their land as well as the land on lease.

Prakash Gram marks a renewal of farming. It is a joint venture of hundreds of farmers in the Karunapuram panchayat and is given awareness classes and training from the Spices Board. They cultivate vegetables, pepper, cardamom, ginger, cloves etc. The main attraction of this society is organic farming. It consists of nurseries which produce good quality saplings, rain-shelter projects, units for organic manure, ponds made on silicone sheets, and rain harvesting units.

They also provide training for new farmers on organic farming. ’ Vaiga’, a stall conducted in 2018 at Kanakakunnu Palace, Thiruvananthapuram was a great success. They found barren lands in the Karunapuram region and cultivated different vegetables along with tapioca, plantain, colocasia etc. Beans are cultivated on a large scale because of their low pest attack compared to other vegetables. They got a high yield of peas,‘brinjal, tomato, cabbage etc. A farmer’s duty is not only to cultivate a good yield but also to find its market. While cultivating, he had to face a lot of challenges such as natural calamities like floods, drought etc. In Idukki, the harm caused by animals is common. Prakash Gram is designed in such a way as to find the right market for organically grown products. Prakash Gram, with the help of the Department of Agriculture, started a vegetable stall and eco shop there. The products from farmers and Horticorp attain good market there. Eco shops are designed to market the homemade products of Idukki especially, spices to the tourists of Ramakkalmedu. They also produce value-added coconut oil, honey, pure turmeric powder, and coffee powder. A variety of products like virgin coconut oil is made homely and they are planning to implement the technologies for the same. They got full support and subsidies from the agricultural department. They have their processing units and use certified pesticides recommended by the Spices Board‘s Research Centre. Prakash Gram conducts seminars and study tours for upcoming farmers. They own agricultural machines of thirteen lakhs. These different types of equipment made Prakash Gram self-sufficient. They supply their products everywhere through courier service.

Prakash Gram also indulges in other areas like tourism. They provide an opportunity to those who are interested in trucking and farm tourism. They blend tourism ideas with farming. Through this eco-friendly approach, Prakash Gram makes once barren land fertile. Ramesan observes our new generation is unaware of farming methods, especially in the case of spices. They will come forward with learning new lessons about farming. We have to cultivate food products organically, Hard work is essential in farming and thereby marks our nation’s progress. ‘Farming is life ’is the motto of Prakash Gram, which invites those who love farming and want to practise it. Ramesan with his Prakash Gram Spices Farmers Society is a role model for all farmers who want to put forward farming without the mind of profit.