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Sujith in his Farm
Sujith Swami Nikarthil, from Kanjikkuzhi, Alapuzha District, Kerala grows Sunflowers on his 2-acre farm. Sunflowers in Kerala are usually a difficult sight as the weather and soil conditions there don’t support its cultivation. Interestingly, Sujith is a hotel management graduate and worked in the field for a few years before turning his focus entirely into farming.
Sujith was even mocked by many people as they didn’t think growing sunflowers in Kerala wasn’t a good Idea. But Sujith is no ordinary farmer; he not only proved his mockers wrong but also inspired many to follow his footsteps. He had over 6000-8000 sunflowers in full bloom on his farm in 60 days in the first season itself.
Farm Tourism can Enhance the Income of Farmers
As already mentioned the sight of beautiful golden Sunflowers is very rare in Kerala and this attracted many people to come and visit his farm in the tiny village of Kanjikuzhi. In no time, people from Kerala & neighboring states started pouring in, as they had never seen such a sight in their life.
Krishi Jagran's Anju Mohan had an interaction with Sujith Swami Nikarthil, in which he said For the second season of sunflower farming, Sujit chose 1.5 acres of land from St. Sebastian's Church, Maruthorvattam in Alappuzha that helped him to welcome more visitors to his farm.
When the crowd started growing, Sujith built a makeshift fence in his farm using saris & nets and put up a ticket for a nominal fee of Rs 10. People didn’t mind paying such a small amount and nearly 1 Lakh people have visited Sujith’s Farm so far.
So, How to Grow Sunflowers In Kerala?
Sujith procured hybrid seeds suitable for sunflower oil from outside Kerala and first grew them into saplings. Once the saplings were 10-12 days old, he planted them in rows. He uses a fresh set of seeds and saplings for each new season, as the ones harvested from the flowers wouldn’t have the same quality.
Sujith has also used the technique of open precision farming, in which the saplings are grown using mulching sheets. These sheets protect the plants from excess irrigation and fertilization as the water & fertilizers seep in too fast in sandy soils of alapuzha. He also uses the integrated farming method; rearing ducks, goats and cows, whose dung is used as organic manure. He also has a fish farm and grows vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, Bhindi (Okra), spinach, chillies, pumpkin and watermelon in the past 10 years as a farmer.
Sujith’s Rs 10 Lakh Profit
Sujith also produces sunflower oil. He could extract 1 kg of oil from every 4-4.5 kg of seeds. He sells this organically grown and extracted sumflower oil at Rs 500 per Kg. In the first season when he started growing sunflowers, he also grew cucumber intercropped with Sunflowers. He invested Rs 2 lakh for the cultivation of cucumber & sunflowers combined and got it all back with just the yield of cucumbers alone. So the profits from the tickets & sunflower oil were a bonus.
From the second season onwards, he hiked the ticket fee to visit the farm to Rs 20. He added marigold, chrysanthemum along with sunflowers on his field and presented the final yield as a ticketed flower show. Sujith hopes that the government & the tourism department takes farm tourism more seriously in the coming years.
As you well know !