Recently attended a webinar about tribal agriculture of Attapadi a hilly area in Kerala. This happened on farmer's day and one outstanding farmer called Unnikrishnan was honored in this meeting. Later collected his phone number and talked to him. Thought of sharing some informations collected from him..
He is from tribal community in Attapadi and stays in the same area. He was earlier working in Navy and took retirement to take care of his family and got into full time farming. He grows rice, millets and vegetables. New fallow areas are leased on every year and he does cultivation, idea is to make sure that there are no fallow areas and encourages people to get into farming. Lots of people leave the farm in fallow and take up other works and also depend on government supplied ration and ultimately they become malnourished.
Rice grown is a traditional variety which is used in that locality but there is no name for it. It is a 6 months duration crop and 4kgs sown gives a yield of 300Kgs. It reaches chest height and grows with many tillers. Generally they will be sown sparsely and will be intercropped with sunflower so that there will be less pest attack. Sunflower seed will be used minimally so that they don't interfere with rice.
On the buds, they grow a local variety pumpkin which is a small fruit variety and this makes sure that bunds are weed free.
Millets are cultivated and he says, right now they have 300Kgs of finger millets on stock. Tribal people typically cultivate for their own food, selling is the last choice for them. There are wild animal and birds attack, but they think that they are growing food for them and wild animals and birds. They see it as a good sign, if wild animals come and eat, so that next year they will have a better crop. This is an amazing way of living together with nature.
He asked me to visit them with family so that we can understand it better....