A paddy field amidst the concrete jungle

In Mangaluru’s Ashoknagar, retired govt. employee grows one kharif crop and harvests 12 quintals of paddy

Amid urbanisation, paddy is continued to be cultivated on a small patch of land in Ashoknagar area in the heart of the city since more than three decades. Thanks to the hard work of Francis Saldanha, a retired government employee and an urban farmer in the true sense.

The 1.25 acre paddy field of Mr. Saldanha is perhaps the only one of its kindin the centre of the city now. With the once rich paddy fields in the city giving way for mutli-storeyed buildings, housing sites and other projects, Mr. Saldanha continues to grow his food on his own in the land inherited by his family.

“It gives me pleasure,” the 68-year-old Mr. Saldanha, a former employee of the Karnataka Government Insurance Department (KGID), told The Hindu.

He grows one kharif crop and harvests 12 quintals of paddy out of it. “I get 68% of rice from the paddy harvested,” he said adding that he sold the rice in excess among his relatives.

Stating that paddy farming is his childhood interest Mr. Saldanha said that he got the certified seeds from the Agriculture Department. The varieties such as MO 4, Jyothi, and Jaya varied depending on the supply from the department.

“I have been adopting direct sowing method without depending on mat nursery method,” the senior citizen who still physically works on the field with other farm labourers said.

Normally sowing is done between June 25 and June 30 of every year and the crop is harvested in the first or second week of November. He is depending on well water and rainwater for the cultivation.

Not perturbed by the rapid urbanisation taking place in the surroundings, Mr. Saldanha said that when many are looking for good land to purchase why should he think of selling it when he did not have any problem out of it. Not only his wife, who was a school teacher, family members and relatives encourage him to keep his spirit up and people in the surrounding have no qualms on the paddy field next door. “They are all happy,” he said and added that once the paddy harvest got over he cultivated vegetables on the same land.

Mr. Saldanha has planned to sow the seeds this year on June 17.

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