After Israel-model, grower turns to tunnel farming back in homeland

SP Sujith Swami Nikarthil, who grabbed the headlines by introducing the first Israel-model farm in the state, has launched his latest project — the tunnel farming of tomatoes in Cherthala taluk. It was three months ago that he tasted success with his Israel-model banana cultivation. Now, he is experimenting with farming tomatoes in a special plastic tunnel, which helps maintain heat and avoid pest attacks.

The Kanjikuzhi Cherthala native was a member of the farmers’ team that visited Israel to study farming and to implement the model in the state. According to Sujith, small mud bunds are created, and the soil is covered with a mulching sheet. A tunnel model covering is also created with sufficient space for growing vegetables.

“Now I am farming tomato and chilly. The experimental farm was constructed on 30 cents of land in Puthanambalam. A 5ft tunnel was constructed for tomatoes, and a 3ft tunnel was constructed for chilly. The attack of pests will be very low in the tunnel. We can also control the heat, which helps with productivity,” Sujith said. Earlier, he had harvested bananas on 1.2 acres on an experimental basis. The crop can be harvested in 9-10 months, Sujith said.

“In Israel, the majority of farming is carried out in playhouses to manage heat because the climate is different from Kerala. However, they are successful farmers due to their technologically advanced practices. In Kerala, farmers plant bananas in single pits. However, in Israel, they plant three saplings in a single pit, and that method is used on my farm. Around 1,100 seeds of robusta, plantain, njalipoovan, and red poovan varieties of banana are mixed on the farm. As a mid-crop, to generate additional income, I planted cucumber. The harvesting of cucumber has been completed,” Sujith said.