By Lata Jha:
Richard Rebello’s twenty five acre AR farms, some twenty five kilometres away from Mangalore in Heroor village, Kundapur, Udupi district in Karnataka is a shining example of the sheer grit and determination of a person with no background in agriculture, who through his persistent efforts, experimentation and research was able to transform a barren piece of land into a model for rainwater harvesting.
When Rebello bought the land in 1987, it was in very poor condition. Around 20 percent of it was very hard laterite where it was impossible to grow crops. The few coconut trees that the land had, had also withered off because of the lack of water. He began experimenting and implementing his ideas by starting with mulching of coconut trees with green and dry leaves. This was to prevent evaporation of water. The other idea that he started implementing with full gusto was to dig pits and deep trenches in the soil in his land at regular intervals to direct the flow of rainwater from the slopes into the trenches. He continued the processes of both digging new pits and trenches and also de-silting the older ones.
Besides growing a number of fruits and vegetables, Richard Rebello’s farm also includes a poultry that breeds broiler chicken and a dairy, both of which are assets to the farm since they provide manure, thus making it self sufficient. The yield from his farm now includes coconuts, pineapples, bananas, besides cashews and pepper that help him make a considerable amount of profit. This from a land that was being discarded as barren a few years back.
If analysed, the success story of the farm simply reiterates the fact that a lot of simple, easy, effective solutions exist all around us. They could be handed down to us over generations and often not paid enough heed to. But no venture in life should ever be devoid of hope or faith. There is always a lot that can be done and achieved.