Sijo Zachariah and his father used a very inventive method of gardening to combat the pandemic. This move proved to bring a drastic change in the life of Zachariah and his family. The boy is only 22 years old and works as an aircraft maintenance engineer in Dubai. This life-changing idea came to him when he was visiting Kerela for his cousin’s wedding. It was also during this time when the lockdown was declared and Zachariah got stuck there and was not able to return to Dubai. The first thing that struck his mind was food. One of the major concerns was how to feed themselves when all things had stopped all over the country.
There was a huge rush everywhere and all the things from markets were running out. The nurseries had also closed down. Meanwhile, Zachariah and his father focused on getting as many seeds of different vegetables, so that they could plant it in their plot of land.
He had very little idea about farming and cultivation. He took the help of many YouTube videos and many techniques taught by his grandfather to his father. They were able to produce a wide variety of vegetables. Their land was already filled with coconuts, jackfruit, and rambutan, a lychee-like fruit before they began their cultivation. This strategic move helped to serve almost 20 neighboring households during the pandemic.
The tropical climate of Kerela proved to be a huge advantage for them where they were able to grow as many vegetables and fruits as they wanted. It provided the appropriate amount of sun and rain where the father-son duo didn’t have to do much work. They just had to take minimum care and wait patiently till the time of harvest. They not only grew their vegetables but also taught many of the neighbors to grow their crops.
He used a recent method for his agriculture that is called permaculture in which the person has to work by nature without enforcing man’s will on nature. He claims to have learned these techniques from youtube videos and from his grandfather who owned huge rice fields for cultivation. He also recalls his days when he was studying and working in Wales. It was difficult for him to adapt there due to various cultural differences but the one thing to which he could easily adapt was food.
He said that the food was tastier when it was grown locally and was not treated with any preservatives or chemicals. He had never imagined that this pandemic will lead him to rethink his career as an engineer and become a farmer. He is trying to connect with all the farmers worldwide and teach them his methods. He is making many videos to help others who are interested to grow their food. The work in the fields has brought him and his father together. He has left the care of his farm with his neighbors after returning to Dubai. He is planning to change his career and become a farmer.