Article Navara Eco Farm - Safeguarding and conserving native Navara rice since 1995

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    editorialteam Active Member Staff Member

    Safeguarding and conserving native Navara rice since 1995. Also manages fruit orchard.

    Rich in medicinal and therapeutic properties, Navara rice is used widely in different ayurveda treatments. It is the one of the fastest growing rice, harvested in just 2 months from the day of cultivation. It is not only tasty and easily digestive but also has the supremacy to heal chronic conditions such as arthritis, paralysis, neurological disorders etc. Inspite of being a super food, this native genetic resource of Kerala is on the verge of extinction! Reasons are non-availability of pure seeds, high cost of production and low yield when compared with commercial rice varieties grown by farmers these days. Navara Eco Farm (NEF) has taken the responsibility to resurrect Navara irrespective of the difficulties and challenges involved. The farm is certified organic farm.
    Mr. P. Narayanan Unny

    Navara Eco Farm (NEF) is a family run farm existing for more than hundred years. It is located on the banks of river “Shokanashini” at Chittur, Palakkad District, Kerala, India. It spreads in 18 acre. Navara rice is grown exclusively in 12 acre while rest of the farm has coconut, arecanut and plantation. “We also have fruit orchard having mango, pomegranate, jackfruit, sapota, papaya and guava trees. Vegetables, spices and medicinal plants are also grown in the farm. We are amongst the first organically certified farm in India,” adds Mr. P. Narayanan Unny, the third generation of the family managing the farm since 1995. He has consciously taken efforts to conserve Navara rice as well as converted the farm into an integrated farm adopting organic farming methods, addressing biodiversity, ecology, environmental and conservation issues.

    As Navara is medicinal rice variety it is best to cultivate it using natural methods completely avoiding the chemical based farming inputs. It is the shortest period paddy crop ideally grown post monsoon. It is grown and managed manually.

    In one acre farmland 60 kg seed is required for sowing. The yield obtained varies between 200-400kg/acre. In order to provide required nutrients and enriching the soil in paddy fields green leaves compost and native cow dung based manure is added in the soil. “We have neem trees in our farm premises and also grow some medicinal plants. Using the leaves of trees and plants we make green manure for the paddy fields. It helps largely,” he shares. Farm has a small dairy unit of Kapila breed native cows.

    Paddy production and harvest depends on various factors such as weather fluctuations, peacocks pecking and pest attack during flowering etc. The paddy plants are very delicate and slender that can be spoiled with the morning dew so the farmers need to be very attentive to safeguard the fields. “Further we have crafted unique solutions to all problems related to pest and insect attack. For example, we planted tulsi and marigold on the bunds of the paddy fields to repel pests. Lastly we have trained our workers to manually control pest and rodents in the farm,” share Mr. Unny.

    It is a premium crop that demands immense attention and management. Another crucial aspect of Navara rice cultivation is that the seed germination shall not be 100% if the seeds are stored for more than six months. “Post monsoon we grow paddy for commercial sales. After harvesting we grow pulses/vegetables later to which once again we sow navara seeds exclusively for seed purpose for the next season. That it, in one year we grow Navara twice, one for sales and second time only for seeds,” he clarifies.

    In paddy processing the bran is not removed from the seed in order to retain its nutritional value. Navara rice is sold at Rs. 396/kg. It is available at ecommerce websites as well as farm operated online store. “We do value addition of paddy into power and flakes as well,” he shares.

    Speaking of challenges he says, “It is only two months crops therefore all the monitoring needs to be done in just 60 days. We need trained manpower at the right time but now it is a challenge to get such committed people to work at that moment on the farm these days.” Secondly this paddy cultivation cannot be mechanized so it faces the demerits of manual farming.

    Irrespective of challenges Mr. Unny is happy with his decision to conserve the legacy of his family and state. He concludes, “We conduct different awareness programs and spread information on medicinal properties of Navara rice. As a result, slowly the demand is picking and sales are increasing that motivates us to move forward. We are here to provide all assistance to those interested in growing this amazing rice.”

    NEF has taken leadership in forming rice clusters for Navara and Palakkadan Matta varieties of rice and registering these varieties as Geographical Indication. Navara and Palakkadan matta were the first agricultural products in India to be registered as Geographical Indication through farmer led initiatives. Mr. Unny has been conferred with “Plant Genome Savior Community Recognition Award” by Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmer’s Right Authority (PPV&FRA), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for efforts taken to conserve Navara.

    Contact details:

    Navara Eco Farm

    Karukamani Kalam, Chittur College P.O, Palakkad District, Kerala, India, Pin: 678104

    Phone: +91 4923 221177, 222277, +91 9447277749



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