Category Archives: Agriculture

A fisher couple who defies conventions

Braving waves: The CMFRI will felicitate K.V. Karthikeyan and K.C. Rekha on Friday.

Rekha is the first woman in the country who goes fishing in the sea by boat, according to CMFRI

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) will felicitate K.V. Karthikeyan and his wife K.C. Rekha who have been venturing into the sea for fishing using gill nets and hooks since the past 13 years.

Sudarshan Bhagat, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, will present a memento to the couple at a fishermen meet to be held at CMFRI here on Friday. He will hand over fish seeds to the couple for launching sea cage farming. The programme is part of the ongoing platinum jubilee celebrations of the institution.

An official release here said that the couple hails from Kundazhiyoor near Chettuva in Thrissur district. It claimed that Ms. Rekha is the first woman in the country who goes fishing in the sea by boat. Although there are women engaged in fishing in backwaters, no record about women’s presence in fishing along the Indian coasts is available so far, said A. Gopalakrishnan, Director of CMFRI. He said that the institution wanted to felicitate the courage shown by the couple.

Financial support

“There are some superstitious beliefs in the society that women are not supposed to go to the sea for fishing. But, here a lady has courageously broken all these unreasonable customs and conventions and made a living out of fishing,” said Mr. Gopalakrishnan. The CMFRI has offered them financial and technical support to launch cage farming in the sea.

The Minister will address the representatives of fishermen and fish farmers. An interactive session will also be held on the occasion to solve the issues being faced by stakeholders.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by  Special Correspondent / Kochi – May 04th, 2017

Nilambur teak set to enter elite club of products with GI tag

prized wood: The superior quality of the Nilambur teak was identified by the British. — Photos: Special Arrangement

The timber has superior mechanical and physical properties, besides an incomparable aesthetic appearance

Nilambur teak, internationally known for its superior quality and elegant appearance, will soon be added to the list of Kerala produces with the Geographical Indication (GI) tag.

The effort to obtain the GI status for this unique timber variety, pioneered by the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) Cell of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) with the support of the Nilambur Teak Heritage Society, the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) and the Department of Forests, is set to bear fruit within a month.

It was the Britishers who identified the superior quality of teak from Nilambur plantations and forests. Later, the region became the major supplier of quality teak in the world.

Global appeal

As its fame crossed the seven seas, Nilambur was christened the Mecca of Teak. Tonnes of timber, blessed with superior mechanical and physical properties as well as incomparable aesthetic appearance, were taken to London and other parts of the world. The Nilambur-Shoranur Railway line was laid for transporting the teak logs.

However, fake products with false tags started flooding the wood/ furniture markets as the fame of Nilambur teak increased. Understanding the potential risk, the IPR Cell and the College of Forestry of Kerala Agricultural University motivated the people of Nilambur to protect their rights legally, by registering the unique product as a Geographical Indication under the GI Act.

The Nilambur Teak Heritage Society joined hands with the Kerala Agricultural University to register Nilambur teak as a GI product of India. The IPR Cell of KAU coordinated the legal procedures. Scientific studies to validate the unique qualities of Nilambur teak were done at KAU’s College of Forestry. The KFRI Centres at Peechi and Nilambur and the Kerala Forest Department also supported the venture.

The preparations for registering Nilambur teak were initiated with a workshop of stakeholders organised by KAU in 2013. The application for GI registration was submitted to the GI Registry, Chennai, in December 2015. The modalities completed, the formality of bestowing the GI tag on Nilambur teak is expected at the next sitting of the Registry, according to KAU sources. Members of Nilambur Teak Heritage Society, Coordinator of KAU’s IPR Cell and experts from the College of Forestry have been asked to attend the sitting at the GI Registry, scheduled for the end of February.

GI registration of Pokkali rice, one of the first Kerala produces to get the GI tag, meanwhile, has been renewed. Other Kerala products with GI registration include Vazhakulam Pineapple, Wayanadan rice varieties Jeerakasala and Gandhakasala, Tirur Betel vine, Central Travancore Jaggery and Chengalikodan Nendran, a banana variety.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Stats> Kerala / by Mini Maringatheri / Thrissur – February 10th, 2017

Going native

Media entrepreneur M.R. Hari rears Cheruvally cows | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Many city dwellers are rearing native cattle breeds

Veterinarian Easwaran E.K. is passionate about cows, specifically breeds native to Kerala. Among his prized bovines is a six-year-old pure breed Vechur cow that he rears on his home farm in Aruvikkara. For media entrepreneur M.R. Hari though, it’s Cheruvally cows that have captured his interest. He rears five of these cows that are endemic to villages in central Kerala in his farm at Puliyarakonam.

Not too far away, in Malayam, government employee and dairy farmer Suraj S. considers a playful 10-month-old Kasaragod dwarf, yet another native breed, as the star of his 40-strong herd. For R.G. Arundev, an award-winning dairy farmer from Balaramapuram, meanwhile, his herd of indigenous cows, comprising two Vechurs, two Kasaragod dwarfs and North Indian natives Gir, Sahiwal, Kankrej and Krishna Valley, are his favourites within his herd of 87 cattle…

At a time when the hullabaloo over Jallikattu turns the spotlight on the need to preserve native breeds, there are quite a few farmers and agriculturalists in the city who have already taken the bull by the horns and are helping to conserve indigenous cattle of Kerala. “Native breeds are the BMWs of dairy farming!” says Hari.

“They’ve become so rare and consequently expensive that it’s now become a bit of a prestige issue for people to rear them” he adds. Suraj is one of them.

“It’s very difficult to procure a Vechur cow and also they cost a bomb – upwards of 1.5 lakh. The next best bet was a Kasaragod dwarf. I bought 10 of them from Kasaragod but had to sell them because they are naturally free-ranging animals and there was no space at home for them to roam at will,” he says. Unlike ‘super cows’ the native breeds are easy to rear, say the farmers. “All that they require are green grass, fresh water and plenty of sun. These animals are very hardy and have a make-up that’s suitable to our climate and as such rarely fall ill, ” says Suraj, who turned to dairy farming when he hit 30 nine years ago. “I don’t think of it as business but my way of giving back to society. It gives me great satisfaction,” he adds.

For many of them, though, their interest in organic farming appears to have led them to native breeds.

Dr. Easwaran, a veterinary surgeon at the Animal Husbandry department, for instance, practices Subash Palekar’s zero-budget natural farming, for which native cattle are essential. “Their manure is rich in microbes that can revive the fertility and nutrient value of soil. Their discharges have medicinal properties,” explains the vet. “I have a professional interest in conservation of native breeds but it’s also my passion. At home we’ve always reared cows,” he adds.

Hari also practices zero-budget agriculture. “Actually, converting rocky or barren land to fertile natural forest is my passion. For that I need indigenous, cows, goats, hens and so on. To me these animals are small organic processing units that send many nutrients from native shrubs, trees and herbs that they eat, back to the soil,” says the entrepreneur.

His interest in cows stems from the pioneering efforts of Sosamma Iype, a professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics in College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, to bring back the Vechur cow from extinction. “I went to film a documentary on her and was blown away by what she had achieved and I immediately resolved to buy native cattle,” he explains.

That said, native breeds are not cash cows when it comes to the quantity of milk. “They produce much less milk per day than European or hybrid breeds. From a Vechur cow, for instance, one can get a maximum of two litres of milk per day and that’s pushing it. Compare that to an average of 20 litres from a Holstein-Friesian,” says Arundev, a CISF officer-turned-dairy farmer. It’s the quality that counts.

“There is high demand for their milk, cowdung and urine, all of which have medicinal value. Most of my customers are Ayurveda companies. I have to get up with the cows to collect the first discharges of the day and squeeze the first milk out of them, for they are all top dollar, literally and figuratively,” says Arundev.

Did you know?

Kerala has several indigenous breeds – Vechur, Cheruvally, Kasaragod dwarf, Kuttampuzha dwarf, Vadakara and Vilwadri, though only the Vechur is officially recognised as a ‘native’ breed. Pure breed native cattle are always of single colour,says Dr. Easwaran.

Cow conservation

Sosamma Iype motivated a group of environmentally-conscious university students to conduct an extensive search for Vechur cows and bulls. The Vechur Conservation Project was launched in Veterinary College, Thrissur, in July 1989 with eight animals. Today, there are, reportedly, 1600 or so Vechur cattle in Kerala. The Vechur Conservation Trust came into being in 1998 and is now ‘dedicated to the cause of domestic animal diversity conservation.’ (Source: PIB, Government of India).

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Society / by Nitya Sathyendran / Thiruvananthapuram – February 10th, 2017

Tribe offers clues to hidden wonders of medicinal plant

Based on traditional knowledge of Cholanaickan tribe

A medicinal plant endemic to the southern parts of Western Ghats and Sri Lanka could offer scientists the key to new herbal formulations and modern drugs for the treatment of cancer and wounds and burns.

Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) here have confirmed the multiple therapeutic properties of Neurocalyx calycinus used by the Cholanaickan tribe, one of the particularly vulnerable groups in Kerala, to treat inflammations and wounds.

The researchers have filed for a patent on a novel herbal drug formulation possessing wound-healing, burn-healing, anti-cancer, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, immuno- enhancing, platelet-augmentation and anti-oxidant effects.

The scientists came to know of the miracle plant in 1988 during a biological survey deep inside the Nilambur forests. The team led by S. Rajasekharan, former Head, Ethnomedicine and Ethnopharmacology division, JNTBRI, came across Kuppamala Kaniyan, a tribal elder, with hideous scars right across his chest. On inquiry, it was revealed that he had been terribly mauled by a bear a few years ago.

“We were told that the animal had pinned him down and was trying to rip open his chest. The bleeding tribesman somehow fought back and managed to hack the bear to death,” says Dr. Rajasekharan. “It took three days of persuasion before Kuppamala Kaniyan revealed how he had made a paste from the fresh leaves of N.calycinus, known in local parlance as ‘pacha chedi,’ to arrest the bleeding and heal the fresh wounds on his chest.”

Systematic documentation of traditional knowledge helped scientists take up the research work later.

Animal trials have proved that the leaves of N.calycinus possess wound-healing properties comparable to the standard drug Povidone/ Iodine in the early phase of inflammation. The anti-inflammatory activity of the leaves was found comparable to the drug diclofenac sodium.

The pre-clinical trials confirmed the therapeutic effects of N.calycinus against burn wounds and pain, besides its immuno-enhancing, platelet augmentation, and anti-oxidant potential. The presence of high Vitamin E content and potent cytoprotective activity in cell lines in the plant species have also enhanced the prospects of developing an anti-cancer drug.

In a presentation that won the best paper award at the Kerala Science Congress last month, Aneeshkumar A.L., a member of the research group, said the work had thrown up promising leads for the development of novel herbal formulations and modern medicines.

“It will now need multi-institutional studies to take the work forward,” says Dr. Rajasekharan.

The paper said the JNTBGRI would share the commercial benefits of its work with the dwindling Cholanaickan tribe.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sci-Tech> Science / T Nandakumar / Thiruvananthapuram – February 04th, 2017

Where tea production is a lasting legacy

teafactorykerala15oct2016

The factory was set up by Britishers in 1935 and production is still on the equipment installed then

 Acclaimed as the highest altitude tea plantation in the world, Kolukkumalai, near Munnar, has the unique feature of preserving the British heritage in tea-making at the factory here.

Located at an altitude of 7,130 ft. above sea level, the factory is housed in a two-storey wooden structure set up by the Britishers in 1935 and the method of tea production is still on the equipment installed at that time.

The equipment still in use at the Kolukkumalai tea factory in Idukki are those installed by the Britishers
The equipment still in use at the Kolukkumalai tea factory in Idukki are those installed by the Britishers

Tea is made here through a process of withering. Manual labour is an integral part of the process, from hand-plucking to the final stage of making tea dust. The factory is set in the ambience of green tea plants on the mountain stretch bordering Tamil Nadu.

Though Kolukkumalai is in Theni district of Tamil Nadu, it is 32 km from Munnar. The story of Kolukkumalai is linked to the tea plantation era of the British Raj in Munnar.

Leased land

The visit of British resident of the erstwhile Travancore Kingdom, John Daniel Munro, to Munnar in 1870s paved the way for tea plantation. He leased the land in 1877 from Poonjar Koikal Rohini Thirunal Kerala Varma and started cultivation of various crops under the North Travancore Land Planting and Agricultural Society. However, it was A.H. Sharp, a European resident who started tea cultivation on 50 acres of land in Munnar in the 1880s.

The tea plantations later extended to the nearby hills, reaching the present border areas of Tamil Nadu. Though tea production in the Kanan Devan Hills is still done in the factories set up by the Britishers, the process and the equipment underwent a lot of change under the modernisation process

An official at the Kolukkumalai factory said the organic method of production is followed here. Since the plantation is located on a peak, the attack of pests is minimum and the natural elements in the soil are preserved. Kolukkumalai also provides a bird’s-eye view of land extending up to Kodaikanal and it is also a natural habitat of bird species that are seen in the high altitude ranges.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / Idukki – October 15th, 2016

Whipping up a record with a mammoth salad

EGGCELENCE ON DISPLAY:The salad that was prepared using 7,000 eggs and vegetables in the city on Sunday, as part of World Egg Day observance.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat
EGGCELENCE ON DISPLAY:The salad that was prepared using 7,000 eggs and vegetables in the city on Sunday, as part of World Egg Day observance.— Photo: Thulasi Kakkat

One hundred-and-forty students from St. Teresa’s College, ten staff members and 43 professional chefs came together to prepare a mammoth egg salad to mark the World Egg Day celebrations in the city.

A statement issued by the Indian Farmers’ Association said the event was organised as part of the ongoing ‘Harithotsavam’, based on farming and allied activities.

The egg salad was prepared using 7,000 eggs and vegetables. When laid out, it measured 814.5 feet, the organisers said.

They also claimed that the egg salad had created a record for its length.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kochi / by Special Correspondent / Kochi – October 10th, 2016

Savour a jackfruit-based wedding feast

JamesMathewKERALA22aug2016

Palakkad :

More than two decades since his active engagement as a campaigner of the seemingly-innocuous jackfruit, suggesting it as a rich source of food security in the years to come, Kerala’s celebrated jackfruit promoter James P. Mathew is now preparing to convert the marriage of his son, Lino, into a mega jackfruit event.

Apart from his friends and relatives, a huge gathering comprising agricultural scientists, organic farmers, opinion makers, senior officials, politicians and activists will attend the wedding on September 15 at Santhom Parish Hall in Kanjirapuzha here. The guests will savour an 18-course jackfruit-based feast. The dishes to be served along with chicken, mutton and fish include the traditional Kerala jackfruit meal and jackfruit-based delicacies such as juice, pickles, ‘payasam,’ wine and fries.

Talking to The Hindu at his residence here, Mr. James said the event has been organised in such a manner as to help policy-makers realise the importance of promoting jackfruit. Lack of awareness of its multiple benefits is directly responsible for the wastage of an estimated Rs.500 crore of the fruit in India, he said. He suggested forming jackfruit clusters and network of growers to convert its cultivation into an organised business.

“A rich source of nutrients, jackfruit has carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Its medicinal properties include strengthening of the immune system and anti-cancer, anti-ulcer and anti-hypertension action. The by-products include beverages, nectar, clarified juice, wine, vinegar, canned products, candied fruit, dehydrated flakes, laddus and biscuits, pickle, pappad, sweets and jackfruit bulbs and leather,” he said. “It is the duty of the government to conduct scientific studies on jackfruit to validate the claims of its promoters.”

Mr. James, who has made a set of jackfruit processing devices, has developed a basketful of products. These include golden-yellow jackfruit wine, dehydrated flakes that can be stored, a health drink, baby food and jack seed powder. His homestead has 60 jackfruit trees of the firm-fleshed ‘varikka’ variety, scattered among coconut, areca nut, cocoa and rubber.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala / by K.A. Shaji / Irumpakachola – August 21st, 2016

Kerala government to explore new markets for native bamboo products

Industries Minister E P Jayarajan checks out the bamboo products at Bamboo Innovation Centre after the inauguration at Angamaly on Tuesday
Industries Minister E P Jayarajan checks out the bamboo products at Bamboo Innovation Centre after the inauguration at Angamaly on Tuesday

Kochi :

Industries Minister E P Jayarajan on Tuesday said the government would take initiatives to explore the national and international markets for bamboo products made in Kerala.

He was speaking after inaugurating the Bamboo Innovation Centre developed jointly by the government and the State Bamboo Mission at Angamaly.

The Bamboo Innovation Centre is envisaged to make and exhibit bamboo products of international quality. It is expected to introduce the latest developments in the global bamboo sector to the State’s bamboo industry, while opening up new opportunities for artisans here.

The Minister said bamboo products made at the Centre would be made available at tourist spots across the State, besides exhibiting at the annual bamboo products exhibition held in Kochi.  On the occasion, Jayarajan also inaugurated  training for the first batch of artisans. Referring to the Central Government’s amended forest rules prohibiting bamboo felling, Jayarajan said a practical solution was the need of the hour, rather than stubborn rules for environmental protection.  “In order to resolve the issues faced by the people of Kerala, we should embrace environment-friendly industrial development. The main crisis facing the bamboo sector is unavailability of raw material, which could be overcome easily by using the tissue culture method. It is high time we became self-sufficient in bamboo cultivation,” said the Minister, and pointed out that the Commerce Department under the State Government was being restructured to tap the international market of products manufactured in India. He also promised that the wages of persons working in the Kerala State Bamboo Corporation (KSBC) would be revised soon.

KSBC former chairman P J Joy, managing director Sukumaran Nair, Roji M John MLA and Angamaly municipal Chairperson M A Gracy also spoke.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Kochi / by Express News Service / August 17th, 2016

For Joseph, cattle rearing is not a job, but a childhood passion

P J Joseph, seen at his farm in Kadavanthra, has been rearing cattle for decades despite skyrocketing expenses
P J Joseph, seen at his farm in Kadavanthra, has been rearing cattle for decades despite skyrocketing expenses

Kochi  :

Is it possible to rear cattle in the middle of an urban city like Kochi? Ask PJ Joseph and the Kadavanthra resident will break into a smile in reply.

Joseph, who is from the Painuthara family, has been rearing a dozen cattle since his teenage days and on Wednesday, the civic body will felicitate him and five others as part of the programme organized to honour farmers at St Joseph’s church.

For Joseph, cattle rearing was a passion, a dream he nursed from his childhood. “I have 14 cows and it is not easy to rear them in a small compound in an unfavourable climate. My father too was a farmer and he had four cows. I used to assist him in herding and selling milk. Today, I have two of the Jersey variety, two Sindhi variety and the remaining are local crossbreeds. I sell nearly 120 litres of milk every day,” he said.

His farm is located in a five-cent plot behind his vehicle service centre near Padam bus stop. “Storing or disposing cow dung was a major issue earlier after houses were set up in the vicinity. Today, people are approaching me for manure for vegetable cultivation. Two Tamilians have been appointed to milk cows, while three from north India supply milk to households and keep the farm clean,” said Joseph, recollecting his teenage days when he used to do such chores.

Another helper supplies 30 bundles of grass every day. Space crunch had forced Joseph to convert his car porch into a storage area. “Rearing cows in city is a costly affair. It is not easy to convince your neighbours about your love for cattle rearing. Luckily, Joseph’s neighbours are relatives. He has been rearing cows for three decades now. Just think, how difficult it is to arrange grass, hay and adequate drinking water for the cattle,” said Johnny, a resident in his locality.

“People like Joseph are an inspiration and an example. The fact that he has been rearing cattle for decades despite skyrocketing expenses shows his dedication,” said Gracy Joseph, chairpersons, development committee.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News Home> City> Kochi / by Shyam PV / TNN / August 17th, 2016

Kerala Agriculture Minister announces farm sector awards

K. Krishnanunni won the Karshakothama award for 2015 for his comprehensive farming practices.

The Malappuram Kolathu Padam Kole Committee has won the Mitra Niketan Padmasri K. Viswanathan Memorial Nelkathir award for group farming and K. Krishnanunni the Karshakothama award for 2015.

Minister for Agriculture V.S. Sunil Kumar, who announced the awards here on Wednesday, said the kole committee was selected for its notable experiments in collective farming on 250 hectares.

Mr. Krishnanunni was selected for his comprehensive farming practices. The young farmer award for women is being shared Lekshmi Rajan of Wayanad and Manju Mathew of Valiya Thovala in Idukki. The young farmer award for men goes to V.Mahesh of Pinarayi in Kannur.

The other award winners are Kera Kesari -A. Nagaraj (Palakkad); Haritha Mithra – M.M.Prijith Kumar (Palakkad); Udyana Shreshta – Mini Joy (Palakkad); Karshaka Jyothi – Ponnan Thekkuvatta (Palakkad); Karshaka Thilakam – Shyla Basheer (Thiruvananthapuram); Shrama Sakthi – S.S. Latha and K. Anil (Palakkad); Krishi Vigyan – K.P. Sudhir, Associate Professor and project coordinator, Centre of Excellence in Post Harvest Technology, Tavanur; Kshoni Samrakshana (soil conservation) – P.M. Mathew (Palakkad); Kshoni Paripalak – V.K.Chandy (Idukki); Kshoni Mithra – E.K. Nayanar (Kannur); Haritha Keerthi – Coconut Nursery (Thiruvananthapuram), first prize; State Seed Farm, Panancherry, second prize; and Orange and Vegetable Farm, Nelliampathy, third prize.

High-tech farmer award – Unni Anil (Palakkad); award for best commercial nursery – K. Jose Cheerakuzhy of Agro Developers Private Limited (Palakkad); Karshaka Tilakam award for girl student – M.S.Harsha (Wayanad), male student – P.Akshay (Palakkad) and Anto Philip (Kadakarapally); Haritha Keerthi award for best farm officer – V.S. Suvarna of Coconut Nursery, Thiruvananthapuram; Karshaka Bharathy award for farm journalist – K.S.Udaya Kumar, agriculture engineer, KLD Board, Thiruvananthapuram; Haritha Mudra for print media Krishi Ankanam published by Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council of Keralam, Kochi; visual media – ‘Nattupacha’ aired by Manorama News and Radio Mac Fest, Community FM Radio, Tiruvalla.

The best bio farmer award – Augusthy (Kasaragod) and Karshaka Mithra award for individuals propagating information on agriculture – Rajani Jayadev (Kayamkulam).

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will present the awards at a function in Palakkad on August 16 to mark the State Farmers Day celebrations.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Kerala  / by Special Correspondent / Thiruvananthapuram – August 10th, 2016