Escape to the backwaters, the serene, beautiful Keralan countryside to immerse yourself in a community fighting a unique struggle, to preserve and cultivate a strain of rice specific to the region, that is threatened by extinction.
The tour begins when you are picked up from your hotel in Fort Kochi, where you’ll be taken on a 90-minute drive through the lush, beautifully green countryside. The drive includes a trip on a ferry used every day by the locals to reach Vypeen from Kochi. As well as offering gorgeous views of palm trees leaning dreamily over the swiftly running river, this provides you with a taste of authentic local life, and for a number of people, the daily commute.
At the end of this scenic journey, you will arrive in Agri-Service, a traditional village that centres around the community-based initiative to preserve a one-of-a-kind, saline-tolerant strain of rice. You’ll start by visiting the vibrant, bustling market, giving you the chance to observe, and if you choose to do so, immerse yourself in the social centre of this incredible community.
From the market, you’ll be taken on a walk through the village as the residents go about day-to-day rural life to a traditional Pokkali farm. Here, you will meet one of the farmers in the area battling against many different constraints, governmental restrictions, competition from large corporations, the modernisation of farming, to preserve not only a traditional method of farming, but a crop that could prove vital to the human race as a whole in years to come.
The Pokkali strain of rice, as we have already mentioned, is saline resistant, which positions it uniquely as a climate change-resistant food. You’ll be awestruck at the community effort being made to ensure that one of the oldest crops known to man survives, and have the opportunity to witness its cultivation through a symbiotic farming tradition involving rice and prawn culture – as man and nature work together to reap plentiful rewards.
You’ll then be invited to join your guide on a Thoni, a traditional country boat, through the stunning, peaceful backwaters of the region, and soak up the peaceful, wholesome atmosphere of rural life as you float weightlessly by. After this tranquil experience, you’ll be greeted by some of the local women of the village, who you will join in cooking and eating a relaxed lunch.
You’ll learn all about the native ingredients and cooking methods that the locals use, and have the opportunity to chat with your hosts and share a delicious, home-cooked meal typical of the region, as you immerse yourself in Keralan culture and learn their ways of living.
Throughout the day, you will be accompanied by a trained story-teller fluent in English, and will come back with a deeper understanding, not only of the ecology of the region, but also of Kerala’s inspiring community based self-help groups.
We arrive back at Fort Kochi at around 3:30 that afternoon, and drop you back at any point you have previously specified.
Visit to the village Agri-Service centre, and a walk through the village
Farm visit and interaction with a farmer who sustains his tradition against many constraints
Thoni (country boat) ride in the scenic backwaters, as you observe daily life in the area
Interactive cooking and lunch with the women of village
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Tours run from Fort Kochi, where you will be picked up and dropped off from your hotel.