The recent lockdown, which lasted over 200 days this year, has helped many realise their hidden talents and provided opportunities to hundred others to explore new methods of earning. For this couple from Kottayam district in Kerala, who with little or no means, has discovered a new way to grow rice during the lockdown. “During the lockdown, many cultivated different crops, but I couldn’t find anyone cultivating paddy, so I thought of growing it,” Titus Sam Joseph tells The Better India.
Titus and his wife, Celine, cultivated paddy on their terrace using mineral water bottles. “Without much hope, my wife and I began the paddy cultivation process. Our first step was to collect 175 empty mineral water bottles from a nearby shop, which didn’t cost us a dime. The bottles were cut horizontally and the lower part of the bottle was filled with water. The top portion that tapers was then turned upside down and filled with cow dung, soil, and then inserted into the lower part of the bottle, so as to submerge it in water. After this the seeds are planted,” says Pala KSRTC station master Titus.
Within days, the rice paddy started to grow, Titus adds, claiming that not a single drop of pesticides were used for its cultivation.
Rice in a bottle
Two major difficulties Titus and his wife faced were watering of the plant and to check if the bottles could take the weight load of the plant. “We water the plant once a day. If there is no sufficient water, then the plant’s growth will be affected. We also have to keep an eye on the bottles as small winds can cause it to topple over. However, the plant started to grow well without too many difficulties,” says Titus.
The 47-year-old adds, “Last month we harvested the paddy cultivated in our terrace garden. We cultivated at least 4 kg of rice. It was sufficient for my family to sustain for a while.”
He adds that now he has the confidence to cultivate paddy and eagerly awaits the next season to do so. The best months to grow rice paddy are June- July, but Titus says he hasn’t planned his next harvest. “I am happy to help others who contact me asking for necessary help in cultivation. Along with cultivating paddy I also dabble in pisciculture, grow vegetables and I also have a small stingless beekeeping nest at home,” he says, adding that he is always interested in trying “new methods of cultivation”. “It takes almost one year to start harvesting honey from new colonies. Here, by the month of May, we can begin harvesting,” says Titus.
The fish cultivation at Titus’s home includes various varieties of fishes including Nater and Tilapia in the tarpaulin pond. He has two ponds, each spanning 11 feet wide and 15 feet in length, that hold almost 700 fishes in them. He says, “One pond is on the terrace and it has almost 200 fishes in it, the other is outside and it has 500 fishes in it.”
Speaking about their vegetable garden which grows different varieties of produce, he says, “I have brinjal, chillies, passion fruit, ridge gourd, long beans, ivy gourd. I cultivate these vegetables for my family and also share the vegetables with the neighbours, who also have their own vegetable patches and share their produce with us.” Speaking of how his produce is not for sale, he adds, “If my paddy cultivation is successful then I believe any plant can grow on the terrace.”
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)