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Kerala Homemaker Who Yields 45Kg Paddy from her Terrace Every Year Gives Tips for Small Scale Paddy Cultivation

Sugandhadevi, a terrace farmer from Kerala, has been growing paddy on her terrace for the last decade. She was recently awarded the ‘best woman farmer’ title in her panchayat.

Ayushi Raina
Unlike many terrace farmers, Sugandha chose paddy farming over vegetables
Unlike many terrace farmers, Sugandha chose paddy farming over vegetables

Sugandhadevi, from Kollam, Kerala had always wanted to try her hand at farming. It wasn't until she was in her 40s that she was able to carve out some time for herself to pursue her passion.

She claims it all began when she saw a Facebook video about a woman who practiced large-scale farming.

Sugandha was inspired and approached local panchayat officials, who handed her 300 grow bags for Rs.13 each.

Unlike many terrace farmers, Sugandha chose paddy farming over vegetables. She claims that this was more difficult, which is why she wanted to take it on. She made little seats out of scrap wood in the house, covered them with plastic sheets, and placed the bags full of the soil mixture on them.

She had her first harvest of 45 kilos of rice within 120 days.

Ten years later, the 56-year-old is still farming and is very content with her life. "My family and I get to eat organic food, which helps us stay healthy even at this age of serious diseases," she added, adding that she also cultivates several vegetables like tomato, cabbage, chilli, pea, ladies finger, brinjal, and much more.

"Paddy cultivation can only be undertaken during the monsoon season (June-September) since rainy weather is required.  Watering is the most important aspect of this farming, and it should be done 2-3 times per day," she said.

She added that she initially thought of hiring labor, but couldn't afford the cost at the time. Her son-in-law assists her in procuring necessary products such as seeds, fertilizers and pesticides.

She takes charge of the rest of the processes.

Sugandha believes that everyone with a decent amount of space on their terrace can try their hand on paddy farming. The perfect mixture for cultivation, she explains, includes soil, sand/ wood dust and cow dung in a 1:1:1 ratio.   "Leave the mixture for 14 days before adding seeds.  In the meantime, make sure it doesn't dry out. After seven days, mix one cup of water with potassium, urea, and cow dung powder and add the mixture on alternate days. The yield will undoubtedly surprise you,” she said.

Although she does not go to the market to sell her produce, some people approach her and ask to buy rice directly from her. The family sells whatever is remaining after consumption.

Sugandha claimed that she was recently voted the "best woman farmer" by the panchayat of her village.

She is now running out of space to expand her agricultural operations. She also carries out farming in her son-in-law’s house, which is located nearby.

Sugandha offers the following tips for small-scale paddy cultivation at home:

  • Never let the grow bag remain dry. Water frequently.

  • Install a drip or spray irrigation system if frequent watering is not practicable.

  • While adding manure or fertilizer, mix both in water and pour into the grow bag. Don’t add them directly.

  • Pesticides should be checked every day, and organic products such as neem oil should be sprayed every 3-4 days.

  • Before starting the procedure, get advice from experienced farmers.

  • The selection of seeds is an important stage. They can usually be procured from the panchayat for free.

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