A rudimentary farming method practised by an Adivasi community residing in the Utnoor mandal of Adilabad district in Telangana, during the process of paddy farming, is not just organic but also time-saving!
Kothaguda is a tribal hamlet along the Godavari river that is home to the Raj Gonds, and generations of this community have cultivated traditional varieties of paddy and continue to do so.
However, unlike the standard way of raising paddy seedlings by planting seeds in a small patch of a wetland, they practice a unique process of seed germination that is suitable in even dry weather conditions.
The germination of seeds is derived with the help of teak and vavili (Vitex trifolia) leaves. And how they do it is even more interesting!
In their native language Gondi, the process is called ‘mande vatval,’ which means setting up a raised platform. First placing regular sized stones on the ground as platform measuring about 4-feet-long and wide, the farmers then fix thin wooden poles on top of the platform that ensures a smooth airflow from beneath.
“A bamboo mat is placed on the wooden poles on which a layer of teak leaves is arranged with perforations to let water drain out. The seeds of the regular variety of paddy are placed on the teak leaves which are then covered with a layer made up of leaves of vavili, called nirgudi in Gondi, and a top layer of teak leaves,” disclosed Athram Bhujang Rao, a Gondi farmer, to The Hindu.
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The arrangement can contain close to 30 kg of paddy seeds, which is then enclosed by heavy flat stones for compactness. Once this is set up, the seeds are watered every morning and evening for three days to keep the heat generated by the nirgudi leaves at bay.
According to farmer Ada Gangaram, the seeds begin to germinate by the second day itself and can be then raised in conventional nurseries.
“This is a wonderful way of going about the initial process of paddy cultivation as it saves about 8 to 10 days for the farmer while the transplantation activity is undertaken. It also helps the farmers during the beginning of monsoon season when there is very little water available for raising nurseries,” said C Narsingu, a retired Agriculture Officer in Adilabad.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)