A miracle of sorts happened when thousands of acres of crop were destroyed by the recent devastating flood in Kerala, but the paddy cultivation done by Rotarians under REAP, District 3211’s iconic organic rice growing project, escaped nature’s mayhem. The project, which is an acronym for Rotary Empowerment of Agricultural Production, was launched last year under the leadership of the then DG Suresh Mathew to revive the dwindling practice of agriculture in a State where farmers had moved on to greener pastures, leaving thousands of acres of land fallow.
As Rotary clubs came forward to organically grow the local variety of Kerala rice and women started demanding more of it, the project succeeded in greening a good portion of the fallow land. Having featured the story on the cover of Rotary News in the March issue, I wondered what had happened to the REAP cultivation. A beaming PDG Mathew I met at the Chennai Institute responded: “A few months before the torrential rain shocked Kerala, the golden harvest of REAP had already been taken by our Rotarians. Fortunately, the new chairman of REAP for 2018–19, Rtn Meenakumaran Nair, a former AG, had foreseen the flood and delayed the seed sowing ceremony.”
He was happy to share that it was the foresight of Nair, “a passionate farmer himself, that saved REAP from the clutches of this catastrophe.”
Last year REAP was launched as a pilot, but seeing its success, Nair has convinced a big cluster of clubs to take up a much larger area for cultivation this year. “The first 50-acre cultivation will be done at Pallipuram Padasekharam, located at the technology hub of Kerala in the suburbs of Thiruvananthapuram. Also, he plans to bring in young techies from tech companies in and around the nearby Trivandrum Technopark campus, thus getting the next generation interested in farming.”
Mathew added that in the aftermath of this massive natural calamity, “people in Kerala are now realising the need to protect mother nature. Rotarians strongly believe that REAP has more relevance in the wake of this disaster in Kerala.”
He added that just before the disaster, 10 acres of land cultivated by RC Quilon Heritage had already been harvested. “The club recently organised a post-harvest Cattle Race Festival that was a huge success with many villages participating.” While in the last week of October, RC Alleppey North sowed the seeds in another 10 acres of paddy at Alleppey, “cultivation at the 50-acre paddy land at Kazhakuttom, Thiruvananthapuram, will be jointly done by a cluster of clubs in the first week of November,” he said.