Amid a massive spread of ‘kattu karuvai’ (Prosopis juliflora) in Kamudhi block, one of the driest parts of the district, lies an oasis, ‘Akaal Farm’, developed by Himachal Pradesh-based Kalgidhar Trust. After a bumpy drive on the three-km-long metal road from Abiramam, about 80 km from here, opens an iron gate to the lush green […]
Amid a massive spread of ‘kattu karuvai’ (Prosopis juliflora) in Kamudhi block, one of the driest parts of the district, lies an oasis, ‘Akaal Farm’, developed by Himachal Pradesh-based Kalgidhar Trust. After a bumpy drive on the three-km-long metal road from Abiramam, about 80 km from here, opens an iron gate to the lush green horticulture farm at Vallandhai in Kamudhi block.
From Moga district in Punjab to Vallandhai, four Sikh families, comprising about 20 members, have come a long way to develop the about 300 acres of fallow land into an orchard.
“We bought the lands in 2007 and it took three years to remove the shrubs and develop the area for plantation,” supervisors Sarbajit Singh (56) and Darshan Singh (46) explained at the farm.
They came all the way from Punjab on the direction of Baba Iqbal Singh who headed the Trust. The former Director of Agriculture, Himachal Pradesh, said that there were plenty of fallow lands in south Tamil Nadu and directed them, the Sikhs in his congregation, to explore cultivation, as they visited this part of the area.
Acting under his leadership, the families pooled in money and bought the lands at the rate of Rs. 20,000 per acre as the local farmers turned skeptical about the fertility of the land and sold them at throwaway prices.
The local farmers now envy the Sikhs. The irony was that some of the farmers — said Syed Segana, retired Village Administration Officer of Abiramam — are now working on the farm as employed workers.
The local people were hostile to the Sikhs in the beginning but have become friendly now, he said.
“Our hard work literally bore fruit,” the Sikhs said, displaying the apple-sized ‘Lucknow 49’ species of guava, developed in about 40 acres and Alphonso, a popular mango variety, and the prized Imam Pasand, on about 60 acres.
They also cultivated cucumber, pumpkin and watermelon as inter-crop last year and harvested about 20 tonnes of watermelon and 12 tonnes of pumpkin. They were harvesting two tonnes of cucumber daily now. Their mangoes sold like hot cakes in Madurai and Bangalore.
They dug 15 bore wells and installed drip irrigation for judicious use of water. They also established an Aamla farm on 40 acres and grew timber-valued trees on about five acres. They now propose to expand their mango and guava farms.
~ Source: The Hindu newspaper