Started farming out of curiosity, now round bottle gourd is icon of Sooranad
Kollam: People are familiar with long bottle gourd (Churakka in Malayalam) already, but not many would have seen round bottle gourd. Compared to the long variety, round bottle gourd is more nutritious and delicious. It was also the attraction in many agri fairs and exhibitions. Currently, round bottle gourd is only cultivated in Sooranad here but it actually came from Bengaluru.
It all started when a study tour for farmers visited the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticultural Research in Bengaluru 18 years ago. Sooranad native Somasundaran Pillai, who was in the team, was totally attracted to a round bottle gourd seen there. He asked for a sapling and was given five seeds.
After returning home, he sowed the seeds in his land. Only two of them sprouted, but they bore many fruits. Some of the round bottle gourds weighed upto 4 kilograms. With this, he expanded farming of round bottle gourd here. People were amused to see its different shape and called it 'Vattichurakka' which means a bottle gourd that looks like a basket.
Initially, only Somasundaran Pillai used to cultivate round bottle gourd here. But seeing the stunning yield, others also started growing it. Later, the vegetable became famous through agri fests and exhibitions and reached many places in the state.
"It fetches upto Rs 20-30 per kilogram. One round bottle gourd weighs upto 2.5 kilogram. It has huge demand in the market too," said Sasidharan Nair, who cultivates round bottle gourd in over 50 cent land. About 10 farmers in Sooranad are farming the vegetable currently.
"Actually, this vegetable is more suitable for Sooranad than Bengaluru. Nothing can beat its taste when typical Kerala style delicacies are made with round bottle gourd," said Somasundaran Pillai who introduced the different vegetable here.