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Kerala’s organic farmer grows mango varieties that are on verge of extinction

Among his collection of mango plants, M. Shankaran Namboodiri has Kohitoor variety which was grown exclusively for Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah, Nawab of Bengal (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@AninBanerjee)

M. Shankaran Namboodiri, who is well known in Kerala for growing different mango varieties, is also a farmer who believes in eco-friendly farming which is in harmony with nature. In his house in Valambilimangalam, he grows apart from mangoes several other fruits and crops all of which are completely organic – fertilisers and pesticides have no place in his farming.

Proudly exhibiting to the media the varieties of mango saplings conserved by him, he informs that many of them are on the verge of extinction. Included in these saplings are those which produce mangoes that are native to Pakistan, US, China, Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand. Apart from them he has mangoes grown in northern parts of India too.

Among the more than 30 varieties from Kerala, Namboodiri has Kuttiattoor, which is Kerala’s only Geographical Indication certified mango, Kottoorkonam, Kattaparamban, Ollor of Aroor, Kozhikode and Kairali.

He also has Rani pasand which is an exotic fruit, the expensive and well-known Kohitoor. Kohitoor is said to have been created for Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah of Bengal in the 18th Century by Hakim Ada Mohammadi, a horticulturist.

In his collection he has 16 native mango varieties that have received the Geographical Indication tag in India while also having another six which are already registered and awaiting certification.

Sharing on how he started organic farming he revealed that he started work on his garden in 1976 after he met Subash Palekar, an agriculture scientist who talked about natural farming.

Besides mangoes, this farmer also grows cardamom, coffee, areca nut, coconut, different varieties of lime, bear apple, Indian jujube, guava, dragon fruit, and even grapes.

He also has cows of native breeds like Ananganmala kullan and Vilwadhiri, which are found in Palakkad district, Karnataka and Kerala-Karnataka border. Determined not to waste any resource, the cow dung is used by him to generate biogas and the slurry mixed with water is used to irrigate the plants.

The house he is constructing has an eco-friendly design and the materials and methods used to construct it will ensure that it will stay cool during summers.