Sixty-five-year-old Malkaiah Mirjaguda — a farmer in Ranga Reddy, Telangana — transformed his four acre land to feature hundreds of sunflowers, marigolds and roses.
Dressed in simple white pancha and shirt, 65-year-old Malkaiah Mirjaguda stands out in contrast to his vibrant backdrop of golden-yellow marigolds and sunflowers.
When driving to Chevella in Ranga Reddy district (45 kilometers from Hyderabad), you can now pause to smell the roses, as well take selfies between marigolds of different colours and a cheery field of sunflowers.
Seated in the shade of a neem tree is Malkaiah, the farmer who created these joyful fields.
Taking a break from growing pulses in his four acre plot in Mirjaguda village enroute to Chevella, he has transformed half of the fields into a flower bed because he wants 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 up people in and around the villages as well as passers-by on the highway.”
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 an afternoon nap post lunch.
Every morning Malkaiah walks from his home in the village which is 3 kilometers away from the farmland. “I prefer to walk; my wife is diabetic, she cannot walk a lot because her knees hurt, so she is helped by a neighbour or anyone on our two-wheeler,” informs Malkaiah.
On weekends, Malkaiah’s farm land filled with flowers is busy as families heading to Chevella for weekend stays or to their respective farmhouses make a pitstop for selfies and photos. Malkaiah is kept busy giving people a tour of the plot. Though he is unable to pay attention to all, he says many kind visitors make sure to thank him for the flower garden.
“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 field. Those living in the city, especially children, don’t get to see so many flowers blooming at one place,” he says.
Malkaiah is not particular about the price he gets to sell his flowers. He sells them for whatever he gets. “There is no point in letting them rot.” Malkaiah adds that sunflowers don’t find many customers. “I planted them because when they bloom together, they all turn towards the highway and provide a cheerful sight. When the sunflowers dry, we extract oil for use at our home or use the seeds as snacks.” Though he admits that it is a laborious process to extract the seeds when the flowers dry, they do it since he has heard that the roasted seeds are good for health.” Malkaiah informs they get five litres of oil from the sunflowers if they extract from all the seeds. “The cost of oil extraction is more than the amount of oil. We just let the flowers be.”
Malkaiah admits he can afford the luxury of growing these flowers since 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. He says, “My sons want me to retire and rest, but I cannot think of doing so. I may not need to support my family economically, but I cannot think of not growing anything on my land. I believe, ‘once a farmer, always a farmer.’”