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Kerala man quits business in Gulf, turns successful farmer in Kuttanad

Kuriakose Antony alias Joby at his farm in Kavalam, Kuttanad, Kerala. Image Credit: Special Arrangement

Kuriakose Antony alias Joby, 39, of Kavalam in Kuttanad, Kerala went to Saudi Arabia years ago with a purpose. He wanted to earn money to buy land in Kuttanad to do integrated farming. Now, Joby is a new generation farmer who has improvised new farming techniques to stay successful while ensuring that even waste from his farm generates revenue.

Though Joby’s father was a farmer all his life working in fields, he couldn’t own a piece of farm land. After spending 13 years in Saudi Arabia, initially working as a mobile technician and later doing his own business, Joby came back to Alappuzha in 2017 and became a farmer as per his wish.

While things were going smooth, the 2018 floods totally devastated him. He lost fish valued Rs 20 lakh in the floods from his fish farm. But what floods took from him, Covid gave him back.

“I suffered a huge loss in the 2018 floods when the crops perished and the fish got washed away. However, financial support from the government helped me to restore my pond and start fish farming again. When Covid struck, I thought that would be the end of my journey as a farmer because I was not in a position to suffer any more loss. But to my surprise, people started coming to my farm asking for fish, vegetables and chicken. I could do more business during the lockdown period. Large fish traders came to my farm and I could sell large quantities of fish to them,” Joby told “Open Digest”.

Though Joby has been doing well with his paddy, vegetable and fish farms since then, he has never been content and continues to learn more farming techniques and improvise it. “I studied commerce and later learned mobile repairing to work in Saudi Arabia before starting my own mobile shop there. My grandfather was a close associate of Joseph Murickan who is known to have started paddy farming in Kuttanad on a large scale by converting a large stretch of lake into a paddy farm. My grandfather used to tell me about  improvisation in farming and how Murickan was a master in that,” Joby said.

Joby is currently cultivating cucumber in sand bangs placed on the fringes of paddy fields. “I am getting good yield from the cucumber plants. I started using sand bags for cucumber farming because I am able to control the manure intake of a plant and if required move a plant from one spot to another if it get affected by any disease,” he said.

Joby has also come out with a cost effective drip irrigation system for vegetable cultivation. He uses the water from the fish pond for watering the vegetables which he says is the main reason for the plants to give him good yields.

Joby, who has been always on the lookout for new income sources from his farm, struck gold when he could sell fat generated from boiling of chicken waste which is given as feed to fish in his farm. “The boiling of 400 kg of chicken waste used to generate 20 litres of fat. I approached several industries where animal fat is used. But they turned me away. I wasn’t ready to give up and approached the shops where fish fat is sold. They asked me to give a sample tin and come after three days. I am now selling the chicken fat for Rs 50 per litre daily earning a decent income from it,” he added.

Joby also has a wish that he wants to win an award in the name of Joseph Murickan if Kerala government institutes such an award.

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