1. Success Story

This Tribal Woman can Make 100 Recipes from Jackfruit; Perfect Example of Atmanirbhar Bharat

Aiswarya R Nair
Aiswarya R Nair

Pickles are everyone's favourite! Well K Kusumavathy showcased how these bright coloured pails can change life. Storage buckets are found everywhere in her small room from under the kitchen countertop, three under the hearth, another three lined up in front of the fridge in the dining room. The pails are filled to the brim with pickles of lemon and mango to gooseberry. Usually Kusumavathy used to sell them during weddings, but everything in vain this year.

However, Kusumavathy had little time to mourn over the lost opportunities. She tried out other methods to keep her finances in track. She has "a hundred recipes" at her fingertips to make from jackfruit. Except for the prickly outer rind, she uses all parts of jack fruit. Jackfruit papad, payasam, chips, and vada from the rags (chavani in Malayalam), pickle and curry from the fleshy core, the list is endless.

In 2019, she was awarded the best chef when she made 23 dishes from jackfruit at a village fair at Kolichal. According to reports, the villagers are in awe of her because she hardly buys anything from the market for her kitchen though she owns only 24 cents of land. Kusumavathy runs a food-secure house. She takes land on lease and cultivates vegetables and paddy. She is a farmer in the fields and chef in her kitchen.

Twenty years ago, Kusumavathy, a Marathi tribeswoman from Delampady panchayat, came to Cherupanathady in Panathady panchayat after marrying Gangadharan C, 52, a primary school teacher in GHSS in

Kusumavathy a Marathi tribeswoman speaks fluent Marathi, Kannada, Tulu, and Malayalam. The commerce graduate used to aim to get a government job. She had applied for a teacher's training course but couldn't join due to financial problems.

In her "free time", she still rolls beedi -- up to a thousand beedis in a day. "I have rolled beedi for 11 years in Cherupanathady. Now I'm eligible for a pension," she says. "She never sits idle, that's how she grew up," says her husband Gangadharan. "We've only two jackfruit trees. But she'll get jackfruits from our neighbours. Then I will also have to sit with her to dress them," he says. "It can go on till late in the night. But time does not matter to her," he says.

Kusumavathy also owned 11 goats. "Once when she went to her mother's place, I sold them off. She deserves some rest," says Gangadharan. Every morning and evening, she spends time in her vegetable gardens for an hour each. She has leased three plots at different places to grow bitter gourd, bottle gourd, eggplant, okra, chilli, cucumber, watermelon, maize, tomatoes.

She has also leased another two acres of land for paddy cultivation. Even though it is a loss making effort for the family, but they get enough rice for six months.

Kusumavathy has also teamed up with two Kudumbashree friends Girija Sajeev and Salomi to grow cassava, yam, colocasia, and plantain as part of Subhiksha Keralam.

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