Sixty-five-year-old Malkaiah Mirjaguda — a farmer in Ranga Reddy, Telangana — switched from growing pulses to flowers, transforming his land into a vibrant garden for locals and travellers to enjoy
Seated under the shade of a neem tree, Malkaiah is a farmer who is taking a break from growing pulses in his four-acre land in Mirjaguda village enroute to Chevella.
‘Happiness to my land’
Malkaiah has transformed half of his four acre land into a flower bed because he wanted his land to look beautiful from a distance. He shares, “During the lockdown in 2020, when there was nothing much to do, I got a few farm workers and planted the seeds. I wanted to bring happiness to my land and make the colours cheer people in and around the villages and passers-by on the highway.” Malkaiah replaced groundnut and cotton cultivation in the land with flower cultivation.
Malkaiah admits he could afford the luxury because his employed sons take care of his expenses. One of his two sons is a lawyer and the other works with the Telangana police department. Malkaiah says, “Our sons take care of us. They want me to retire and rest at home, but I cannot think of doing so. I may not need to support my family, but I cannot think of sitting idle or not growing anything on my land. I believe once a farmer, always a farmer.”
Surrounded by Agar trees on the far end of his land, is a small house which doubles up as storage. This is where he and his wife Venktamma retire for a siesta instead of going home to their village.
Every morning Malkaiah walks comes from his home in the village which is 3 kilometers away from the farmland. “I prefer to walk; my wife cannot walk a lot because her knees hurt, so she is dropped by a neighbour or anyone on our two-wheeler. In the evening she returns home the same way,” informs Malkaiah.
Busy on the weekends
On weekends, Malkaiah’s flower patch looks busy as families heading to Chevella for weekend stays or to their respective farmhouses make a pitstop here for selfies and photos. Malkaiah gets busy giving people a tour of the plot. Sometimes he is unable to pay attention to all, but the kind visitors make sure to walk up to Malkaiah, thank him for the flower garden, some even forcefully push money into his pocket as a token of appreciation.
“On weekdays, I see around 50 people. The number multiplies manifold on weekends. Children and women love taking photos next to flowers. Some people extend their photo break and sit down under the shade of this neem tree to simply admire the flowers. Those living in the city, especially children, don’t get see so many flowers blooming at one place. When people approach to buy flowers, we sell for whatever price they are willing to pay.”
He adds, “There is no point in letting it rot in the ground. Sunflowers don’t find customers, I planted them because when the blooms, all turn towards the highway, they add a much needed cheerful sight. When the sunflowers dry, we extract oil for use at our home or use the seeds as snacks. It is a laborious process to extract the seeds when the flowers dry. We still do it because consuming the roasted seeds are good for our health.” On one stretch of land which is barren at the moment he used to grow safflower for oil.