Twelve years after retiring as Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief, PK Hormis Tharakan has a new assignment for himself, this time in agriculture field. Tharakan who is a resident of Kerala is nowadays busy in ensuring the crows don’t prey on shrimp and fish in his agriculture fields in Alappuzha district, thanks to his decision to take up paddy-cum-shrimp farming.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Tharakan has taken up agriculture activities in his ancestral village in Alappuzha district and inspiring many to follow suit. Tharakan said that his family is of traditional agriculturists but none among the eight brothers took up farming after his father’s death in 1959 and as a result, the 5-hectare land of the family fell into disuse. Tharakan said that he was 23 when he got into the IPS in 1968.
“I was the first among my brothers to get a job. After me, the others moved to various professions, both in the government and private sectors,” he said.
An IPS of the Kerala cadre 1968 batch, Tharakan was the RAW chief between 2005 and 2005. Besides, he had also served as the Kerala DGP. After retirement in 2007, he moved to Bengaluru. But in 2014, he shifted to his village, Olavaip. Tharakan said that after retirement, he planned to spend the rest of his life reading and writing, but now he has become a paddy-cum-shrimp farmer in his village Olavaip.
“I have become a full-time farmer. The field is my classroom and farming is a really humbling experience for me,” he said.
Tharakan recalled that three years ago he decided to experiment with paddy-cum-shrimp culture in the brackish waters near his ancestral home.
“When I decided to take up farming, I went for paddy-cum-shrimp cultivation (known as One Paddy, One Fish farming in Kerala). All my brothers contributed financially for this group activity,” he said, adding that he wants to revive paddy cultivation
“Paddy cultivation isn’t profitable, but it triggers economic activity in rural areas. When we hire workers, the rural population gets employment and they benefit in terms of wages,” Tharakan who lives with his wife Molly in Olavaip said.
Kerala has very rich resources of the wetlands which remain fallow during major parts of the year. Paddy is cultivated for a period of nearly four months in the low lying fields and the rest months it is kept fallow.
Under the One Paddy, One Fish, alternate cropping of fish and paddy is done in these wetlands. Apart from the four months when paddy cultivation is done, farmers with a minor modification of the land grow shrimps. This type of farming also reduces the use of pesticide in the fields.
Tharakan said that he learned about the method ‘by trial and error’. He said that the government agencies in the fisheries sector also helped him. After harvesting of tiger shrimps is done, the fields are drained for the cultivation of Pokkali paddy.
Tharakan said that every day he leaves for his farm on foot to monitor work including feeding the shrimp, shooing away birds, regulating water flow and monitoring the pH value of water.