Date with dry-land farming

Young Keralite Ibrahim Shafeel has transformed patches of the arid Virudhunagar district into little oases of greenery replete with native vegetables and exotic Arabian date palms

The ochre soil glows a fiery red in the bright morning sun and rows of palm trees cast skimpy shadows on the barren landscape. Dry ponds, vast expanse of seemai karuvelam thickets, parched earth and a hot dusty storm greet us as we enter the interiors of the drought-prone Virudhunagar District. And in the middle of the arid region is the Veerachozhan village where an organic farm is surprisingly/ green and lush. In contrast to the sepia-toned surroundings, the facade of the farm is lined with leafy murungai trees and behind it is a neatly laid tract of inter-crops like ladies finger, brinjal, spinach, tomatoes and pulses. Flocks of country chicken wander around, pecking at insects on crop shoots and a herd of buffaloes graze quietly in a corner.