Vellamunda: Kunjiraman and Pushpa, the tribal couple hailing from Edachery in Thondarnadu set a model for the new generation farmers who leave farming and go in search of other jobs. They take the arid hilly areas for lease and turn them into lush green lands by farming. They find their living from the farm where plantain, long beans and ginger are grown.

Though hearing and speech impaired by birth, Kunjiraman finds nothing as a barrier to engage in farming as he has full support from his wife Pushpa. As they had only one-acre land, the couple took an arid hill for lease paying Rs 7000 for an acre per year. Now they have taken 3 acres of land for lease and use it for farming. Their farm consists of about 3000 banana plants, ginger cultivation in one-acre land and 1000 plants of long beans and bitter gourd each. The couple spend the entire day in the farm.

The banana variety they have chosen is a different one. Unlike the ordinary types which are harvested in monsoon, this variety is harvested in summer. They have to carry water from one km away and take it to the top of the hill for watering the crops. Large scale cultivation of this banana variety in Thondarnadu was introduced by this couple. They spend all the summer on the hill taking care of the crops. Earlier, Kunjiraman had been working in a tea estate. Later he turned to full-time farming, as he wanted to take care of his family on his own.

kunjiraman and pushpa
Kunjiraman and Pushpa at their farm. Photo: Mathrubhumi

The sole source of income for this family is agriculture. They earn about Rs 4.5 lakh per year from banana cultivation. Though they have financial liabilities including the loans taken for farming, the family manages to repay all of them with the profit earned from farming. Their children are Anjana, a student of 8th standard, and Ajin, a student of 4th standard. The family’s ambition is to build a new house in place of the old small house presently they live in.