Also known as the ‘Ooty of Malabar,’ Kerala’s Kakadampoyil village with its misty hills and valleys makes a perfect avenue for the one-of-a-kind fruit forest that brothers, Abdul Hameed Haaji, 50, and Abdul Salim, 54, have built next to their house.
With fruits ranging from the elephant apple to the Burmese grapes, these brothers have procured saplings from across the world and are growing them in the 18-acre orchard.
“We have a unique range of fruits that cannot be found in India, and have set up the orchard in such a way that tourists and visitors can walk through it, taste a few fruits and even buy saplings. Besides fruits, we also have grown vegetables and rear a few cows and even fish,” explains Abdul Hameed.
Although the brothers brought the land in 2011, they couldn’t cultivate much as anticipated due to a stone crushing business they needed to look after. Unwilling to let either go, they decided to parallelly manage their business along with the farmland.
“We’ve divided up the work, and managed to figure out a way to run both businesses. So far, everything has been running smoothly,” says Abdul Salim.
Around five years ago, the duo also leased a farm in Gundalpettu, Karnataka to grow fruits, primarily mangoes. Although they had a few successful harvests, after a year’s drought and the difficulty of sourcing water, they gave up that land and dedicated their time entirely towards their orchard in Kakadampoyil.
A Walk Through The Farm
With 18 acres of land spread across the breezy hills of Malabar, the brother duo has taken advantage of Kakadampoyil’s cool climate to plant saplings that are suitable for colder regions.
From Barasu, elephant apple, strawberries, Pulasan, mangosteen, Abiyu miracle fruit, dragon fruit to local varieties of guava and pear, the farmland’s got it all.
Besides the fantastic range of fruits, the brothers also cultivate pepper, coffee and clove.
“The most expensive sapling that we’ve purchased was of the Burmese grape. But we didn’t think twice about buying it because it was a rare variety that we had to have in the farm,” says Abdul Salim.
“We’ve also ensured that the land is not deprived of any vegetables, so we are cultivating cabbage, cauliflower and beetroot, but this is mostly for our family’s everyday needs and not for sale,” he adds.
To ensure that all the saplings and trees in the farm receive enough water and nutrients, they have adopted drip irrigation in a step cultivation system. But instead of using plain water, they mix it along with organic manure.
“We’ve set up a biogas plant in the farm itself, so the remaining slurry from the plant is taken and mixed with water for the plants. This technique has resulted in an amazing harvest and also saved a lot of time,” explains Abdul Hameed.
To source manure, the duo has also turned to cow rearing with ten cows of the Kasargod ‘Kullan’ variety. This dwarf variety has a higher feed to milk ratio compared to other varieties.
With a minimum of 10 visitors coming in every day to visit the farm, the duo finds the nearby Kakadampoyil waterfalls to be a blessing.
“We’ve set up a stall near the falls, so most tourists buy saplings and fruits from there, and some of them visit the farm to come and get a closer look,” says Abdul Hameed.
A Lake Of Fish Within The Farm
In 2011, when the brothers saw the land, they were fascinated by the three huge ponds in it. So, once the orchard was taken care of, the duo moved to pisciculture and started rearing different varieties of fishes in the pond like Tilapia, Nutter and Rohu.
Alongside, they have also leased a plot of and about 7 kilometres away and rear fish with the help of the fisheries department.
“Despite the crusher business, we’ve always found the time for farming because it’ s our passion. We never started it for profits, in fact, the whole idea was to avoid depending on markets and neighbouring states for harvest, but now our farm has become a source of inspiration to many budding farmers who also wish to create something similar,” Abdul Hameed concludes.
The duo hopes to expand their farm with more rare varieties of plants and wish to make these fruits more accessible in the market in the coming future.