George Mathew (50 years), has completed his pre degree course and is an executive member of `Karshakavedi'. He hails from a business family. All his four brothers are well settled in their businesses. He owns 0.8 ha of land and lives with his wife and two children off the land. Lately he developed an interest in agriculture.He is a member of Organic Spices Growers Forum and Participatory Technology Development (PTD) Initiative, the institutions supported by Information for Action (INFACT).
George Mathew has developed a new method for the cultivation of vanilla in order to get more yield as well as some other advantages. A one-metre long stem of vanilla is planted initially. After six months, it starts sprouting from where it was bent below the node. After nine months, it starts flowering between the sprout and the point of cut. After one year, the second sprout starts at the point of initial bend. The stem is cut one metre away from the point of second sprout. It starts flowering and fruiting in bunches from all the stems that have got cut at their end. These bunches are tied to the stem to make them grow straight. Sprouts arise at every bending point of the stem.
Some distinctive features of this variety are: farmers can decide the exact place to grow the shoots and pods, the total length of the stem can be controlled to 18 metres thus reducing the load on the supporting tree, since stem is not entangled, the problem of disease is minimized. Stem growth being controlled, new unwanted sprouts and suckers are also averted. About 2500 plants can be grown per hectare. Supporting trees need not be interconnected for reinforcement and the expenditure on labour is reduced. Some amount of rainfall during November to February will not affect the yield adversely. The plants start yielding within one year, bunches of pods spring up from many nodes of the same branch and 20 to 25 fruits are obtained from each bunch. Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore in its comments acknowledged that induction of flower from the cuts on the stem was a novel technique.