NATURE'S TREAT: Growing Giant Yams-the Natural Way
For Raveendran, farming is what completes him as a human being | By Mukesh Venu
On Sep 22, 2011


Till a couple of years ago, the world record for the biggest yam, or 'kachil' as it is known in Malayalam, was 82 kilograms. Last year it was broken by R Raveendran, a farmer, and a stationary shop owner, from Pongumoodu, with his gigantic yam, weighing an astonishing 275 kilograms.  The yam which has already entered the Limca Book of Records, is now awaiting verdict from the Guinness Book of Records.



“I come from a farming family,”says Raveendran - “Even when I was a child I was more interested in learning various farming methods, than in my studies.” As a firm believer in the traditional methods of farming, Raveendran has nothing but contempt for the modern techniques used for farming and the products thus procured.

“What they are using now is poison in the name of pesticides and fertilizers. They do increase the yield, but only after exacting a severe price from the soil. And the produce thus obtained is tasteless and harmful. It decreases the immunity of our body, and in the long run, turns each and every one of us into patients”.

For Raveendran and his family, the vegetables organically grown in his farm land, which is a five cent plot behind his stationary shop situated by the NH 47, is sufficient. He fertilizes his land using  the waste from a fruit stall, tea stall and hotel functioning nearby. This waste is composted along  with cow dung and then fed to his plants. To increase the productivity of the soil, the agents whose services Raveendran uses are nothing but worms.



“The excreta of these earthworms is excellent for plants. The very fact that the worms survive on a particular piece of land is proof enough that the soil is productive,” explains Raveendran.

Raveendran grew  the record breaking yam from the seeds given to him by a relative who had obtained them from CTCRI (Central Tuber Crops Research Institute). The first seed was planted in 2005. Next year the backyard of Raveendan's house produced a yam of 50Kgs. In 2007 he grew one weighing 72 Kgs. The size  continued to increase with subsequent years, until in 2010 the yam weighing 275 Kgs was produced. The organically manufactured seeds from CTCRI were the major reason behind this feat, but not the sole reason.           



“I had given seeds to many people who came asking for it. A few of them called back to say that they harvested yams weighing 50 Kg or 60 Kg. As for the rest, I have no idea how their attempts fared, because they never bothered to inform me about it. But the reason for the yam of the ones who did call back, to be comparatively smaller is that they had used chemical fertilizers, which does not help the plant. Just planting the seed is not enough, you have to take care of the plant, nurture it and provide it with conditions to grow. As for me, I provide the plant with organic manure, and guide their growth in each and every step.”



While the plant which produced the 275kg yam had grown to a length of about 150 feet, the one planted for 2011 has already reached that mark. If everything goes well,the yam that would be dug out from the backyard of Raveendran's house in 2011 would weigh in excess of 300 Kgs. But Raveendran isn't bothered about setting records, or winning awards, something which he has already done several times.



“You plant a seed,  nurture the seedling that sprouts from it, feed it with soil friendly manure, and watch it grow. Finally when it bears fruit, that's the greatest happiness that a farmer can have,”- he states.

While Raveendran is much obliged to CTCRI for the help and support they have given him for his  organic farming methods, he remains skeptical about the motives of the State Agricultural Department. “When they heard that I had produced a yam of 275 kgs, an officer from their department came to my house and promised me all the support I needed, and in return they wanted me  to tell the media that the yam was produced under the guidance of the Agricultural Department. I refused to do so and I haven't heard from them since,”  he shrugs.



To Raveendran, people in today’s world are distancing themselves away from nature and physical labour, causing them to be vulnerable to various diseases which they hide by consuming too many medicines.

“Every day I work on my plants from morning 7 to 9, and from evening 4 to 7. Sweating under the sun during these times is the best that you can give to your body. It gains more strength and immunity that way. Look at me, I am an old man, but I am still in perfect health; this is the reason behind it.”

The yam which brought accolades and awards to Raveendran was the product of his love for the land, and his belief that if you do good to the land, it will give you twice as much in return. Soon, a local stationary shop owner, and a part time farmer residing in the outskirts of the city, would make news again for achieving yet another record breaking feat in farming. Even then, the government and its departments would only shy away from helping Raveendran and people like him, because the methods he applies to farming are a threat to the money making corporate institutions whose only goal is to squeeze out from the land as much as possible before the last of its life giving juice is exhausted.  

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i had met him...such a nice man =D
Kapil Sreedhar, on May 11, 2013 07:47:09 PM
Great article, visionary farmer, thank you.
S List, on Apr 19, 2015 04:44:35 PM
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