For every Keralite , mangoes linger with his passe and it always bring something nostalgic into his mind. But the rapidly increasing consumerism has wiped off his time-tested affinity towards the mango trees. But a visit to the farm of Kosseri l Kurian George would whet his appetite in farming once again, affirms Madhu Chemperi.
While crossing the boarders of Kerala to Karnataka, through the once barren lands of Tamil Nadu, one can see the lush green plantations now, sway in the hot breeze as if waving a scornful smile. We can see the dark-skinned Tamilians working there fighting the scorching sun above and the defiant soil below. We see them challenging the arrogance of monsoon that passes through the Kerala terrains many times, never turning to this sterile land.
Through the tinted glass of our air conditioned caravan that flies never below 80 Km/hr, we enjoy the greenery that once was a reserved proud of a Keralite. On the way sides near to Krishnagiri, we see the vast mango plantations and the fresh-from-farm mangoes in the pulling carts on the road sides prompt us for a halt and we taste the luscious mangoes, smacking a nostalgic tint. Even though blessed with two monsoons in a year, most of the Keralites were prostrated before the ever burgeoning consumerism, and habituated with the sky-living status, hate to touch the soil.
Once an agrarian community, Keralites but never let the wholesome inheritance to their own idleness and that tells the story of a Kurian George alias Kunjumon who has been indulged in a passionate mission experimenting with plants in soil and evolving special varieties of natural fruit-trees including that of the King of Fruits, mango, adding it to his own hierarchy, his own address – Kosseril.
Tale of a Kosseril Mango
Kosseril Mango is now famous and stands apart across the State of Kerala, where the majority of the consumer community depends on the artificially ripened mangoes by the venomous calcium carbide to extinguish their covetousness clung to their own past. Kosseril mango is amazingly large in size with enchanting smell and taste. In the International Mango Festival conducted at Trivandrum last year, Kosseril Mango made the visitors stand agape with its size that is about 2 kg and fetched the prestigious award of that year for its ‘creator’ Kurian George.
“It was a happening rather than a pursuit”, says a proud Kurian George. “I have been interested in farming and agriculture since my childhood. Once when grafted a new mango stump in an old mango tree in our own yard it was becoming an exciting success. It was about 18 years ago. When the grafted mango tree began to give out fruits, those who came to see it were stunned to see the size of the mango. It was big in size as well as luscious in taste. Then people around here asked me to give them such grafted saplings..” Kurian George narrated the tale of the Kosseril mango and a way of living laced with soil in his own down-to-earth simplicity.
Kurian George voluntarily joined this new comer with his owm family, as one among his Kosseril House. And it became a trade name in the fruit markets of the Consumer-fed Kerala as Kosseril mango. Kosseril house is seated in the picturesque hill station of Idukki District, near to Mulappuram hardly 15 Kms from Thodupuzha. One will definitely feel as if in the Garden of Eden when reached the farm of Kosseril Kurian George, the hard working Kunjumon of Mulappuram village. We will be spell bound to see the vastness of farming and the verity of knowledge that people of Kerala still dwell upon the agrarian income they get out of surfing the soil.
Kurian George’s farm is an annex to his own courtyard and that extends to about I acre. While walking through the greenery of his nursery we see the various stages of the mango trees from the grafted saplings to the fully grown tree not so tall, but spread out its canopy to a lovely circumference of small measure, giving out recuperative visuals. While roaming around, Kurain George, patted its twigs and lean leaves with affection and tapped the bunch of fruits and they swayed along as if contented.
Average life-span of a Kosseril mango tree is 50 years. Its short but spread-out stature is a visual feast. This kind of growth also helps it to survive the winds and storms. If to quote Kurian George, they are very much immune to the common diseases when compared to the other species of mango trees. Within three years it will start to bloom and the fruits can be plucked by standing simply on the ground. So some people prefer Kosseril mango tree to plant in the front yard as an ornamental tree. As its fruits are larger and luscious it is being used by farmers in plantations in an industrial means also.
Blooming begins in the month of November. It takes 6 months for a mango to be ripened naturally. Less fibrous, it is commonly used to make pickles, an inevitable item in the menu of a Keralite. Ripened fruits are luscious beyond a verbal description.
Hailing from a peasant family (not unusual in the Idukki hill station), Kurian George possess an innate love for trees and plants. So, only after the successful birth of a Kosseril mango, he has started to rear up the saplings industrially, that too because of the persistent egging of the people around for want of this wonderful creation.
Fruits of hard work
“ I’m particular about the selection of the mother tree. If it is not healthy, the budding and grafting may not be a success, as it would produce only unhealthy saplings” , says Kurian George.
Kurian George has a huge collection of healthy and reliable mother plants, chosen and nurtured well by himself. The budded ones, especially the straight growing grafts can be planted at the centre of the pits (of length, breadth and depth of 3 ft each) along with the ball of earth intact in such a way that the roots are not expanded and the graft union is above the ground level. The plant should get enough sunlight. Dried cow-dung and bone meal are the manures to be added along with the first layer of the soil. It has to be irrigated frequently. At the initial stage, enough shade also should be provided and also stake to make them grow straight. Kosseril mangoes possess a higher rate of immunity when compared to other species, but if noticed the decaying of any twigs, it has to be chopped off not so late.
Kurian George apparently depends only on organic manure and organic pesticides in his farm and nursery. Being less vigorous than the chemical ones, it needs more stress and time to go organic. But Kurian George is ready to do so, as he is inspired rather than learned or trained. So, left alone to work in the farm does not make him depressed; a roaming around among his own blooms makes his anodyne.
Garden of Kosseril
“One who plants five mango trees does not go to hell..”, says Varaha Purana. But Kurian George never puts a brake even after planting thousands of mango trees. Obviously, like most of the farmers in Kerala, Kurian George is also switching over to high-value tree-fruits of Malaysian origin Rambutan and certain other varieties of tree-fruits, as he has transformed to a fulltime farmer professionally.
But his love for experiments still continues. He tries his hand in budding new varieties of jack fruits from the granny jack fruits of superior quality. It yields fruits daily, beyond a seasonal scale. It never goes high more than 30 feet and a single jack fruit of its kind will weigh up to 15 Kg. It is really a charming sight to see a minimum of 3 such big jack fruits hanging from a single stalk. We are yet to hear about a Kosseril Jack fruit bearing another amazement to the fruit lovers and one who is in need of a nostalgic fruit season in his own yard.
Another variety of fruit developed by Kurian is a kind of sweet orange having the size of a small lemon. Most wonderful and enchanting of the fruit trees is Moottippazham (Baccaurea courtallensis) which hang in bunches from the thick trunk of its tree. Other than Kosseril, a lot more variety of grafted mango trees also has been placed in his nursery, for sale.
If you come across with the delicate and slender variety of a dwarf mango tree having long slender and lovely leaves, you cannot help asking its name. And you will be all the more astonished to know that it has no name so far but a Pakistan native, blooms lavishly in Hindusthan where its fruit is considered as an icon of faith, an alteration of Lord Prajapati, the Lord of all creatures…
(If you need a Kosseril mango sapling, ping at 91-9447821881..Definitely you will start sucking the luscious Kosseril mango, within 3 years.)