March 10, 2002

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Mathew, alias Appachan of Eyoparambil, Kattappana, Idukki

Few years ago, when Mathew, alias Appachan of Eyoparambil, Kattappana, Idukki decided to sell his 6 acres of cultivated land and concentrate instead on growing medicinal plants, many considered it a foolish decision.  But within 3 years his plantation of more than 1000 varieties of herbs is attracting the appreciation of connoisseurs and professionals alike.

His 2 acre cultivation is situated adjacent to Government College, Kattappana.

Once the decision to switch over to herbs was made, it was a time of travails and travels for him.  He traveled all over India to collect these exotic plants.  His trip to Agasthya Hills to collect ‘Amrithapala’, journeys to aboriginal lands to collect specimens, the occasional disappointment of returning empty handed after trekking many kilometers, these are etched deeply in his memory.

Among his collection are rare herbs like ‘Amrithapala’, ‘Chenkattu vazha’. ‘Karinechi’ from Dindugal, ‘Kilimookku’ from North India, ‘Hemadanthi’ – the leaf of which if torn will rejoin like graft when pressed together, ‘Jalantharitti’, which accelerates clotting of blood, and so on.

Once he gets a rare herb, he tries to collect similar ones of the same species.

He has kept a catalogue of his collection with botanical names and therapeutic uses of plants. However there are many plants in his collection whose exact names are not known.

Lack of scientific knowledge and huge cost of cultivation are his major worries.  He has already spent more than 4 lakhs in this venture.

Mathew,  who grows these herbs without using chemical fertilizers, has now formed a ‘Medicinal Plants Society’ and is trying to broaden his activities.  He has plans to grow the herbs on commercial basis.

Mathew migrated from Eruveli to Idukki 40 years ago.  Since the last 21 years he is residing at Kattappana.  His wife and eight children help him in his activities.

A senior scientist of Tropical Botanical Garden, Palode, Thiruvananthapuram has visited his farm and appreciated his single-handed achievement.

Courtesy: Santhosh George, Mathrubhoomi

Contributed by: Administrator