The rains may be playing truant again this year but farmers across Maharashtra will soon begin sowing the rice crop in a bid to make the most of the monsoon. Now you too can help grow this staple crop, learn to pick the right soil type and transplant the crop, just by taking a small trip. Grassroutes, an organisation that promotes rural tourism, is organising trips to the village of Purushwadi, giving city slickers a chance to learn to grow what they eat. The trips begin on July 2 and are on during weekdays, as well as weekends.
“Rice cultivation takes place only during the monsoon. This is the time when water is not scarce and the fields flood. Rice can be grown only in flooded fields,” says Nickolai Kinny of Grassroutes, adding that apart from transplanting and cultivating rice, people can also learn about how it is stored and the different varieties of rice on offer.
“Most people eat rice but don’t know what it is named. The local farmers will help them identify the various varieties and give pointers on which soil is conducive for growth.” Tourists can also take home some of the rice that has been grown as well as think of implementing these techniques in the city and becoming community framers.
Apart from farming, one can also par-take in other village activities like ploughing the fields, swimming in the river, trekking through the beautiful greens of the Western Ghats or helping villagers in their household chores like chopping firewood and milking cattle. Grassroutes operates at a 60:40 ratio. Sixty per cent of the money earned is paid to the village. Villagers are also employed as guides and housekeepers. The money is given to the village tourism committee who passes it on to the villagers.