Shijo John, 42, is not a big time farmer and has only four cents of land at Kumarakom in Kottayam. But his passion for farming has made him grow all sorts of vegetables at his small plot, surprisingly even grapes. Shijo is now exploring the potential for scaling up grape cultivation at Kumarakom after his daring experiment to cultivate grapes turned successful.
Though farmers have earlier tried to grow grapes at Kumarakom, the grapes tasted sour. But Shijo’s experiment defying conventional wisdom yielded grapes, which were sweet, for the first time in the region. “I brought the saplings from Cumbum in Tamil Nadu when I saw large fields of vineyards with grapes. After talking to the local farmers there, I decided to give it a try,” Shijo told “Open Digest”. Shijo, who has done a course in agriculture from an institute in Nagercoil, says that though the yield was less initially, he could get more grapes after he pruned the plant and started applying organic fertilisers.
“I mainly used cow dung as fertiliser and watered the plant plenty. Pruning is very important for increasing the yield,” he said. Shijo has decided to continue his grape framing on a trial basis for another couple of times before scaling up his operations for large-scale grape cultivation. He has pruned and kept the plant ready for another round of grape cultivation.
“If we could farm chemical and pesticide free grapes locally, it would be a major achievement. Currently, we are heavily relying on grapes coming from other states. I will be conducting more trials in grape farming,” he said. As grapes typically require specific climatic conditions to thrive, Shijo’s successful cultivation has become a discussion among other farmers in the region.