Rich harvest: Kumar, a commerce graduate with no formal qualification in agriculture spends 3-4 hours every day on his plantation at Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: An Indian expat who entered the record books in 2012 by growing the longest okra (41.91cm/16.5 inches), is gunning for another record of sorts by cultivating rice in the UAE.

“Rice hasn’t been grown as a crop in the UAE and there have been several failed attempts in places like Al Ain. If and when my current crop harvests, it will be a first in the country,” said Indian expatriate Sudhish Kumar who, by the way, also has a record for owning the ‘smallest okra plant (3.81cm) with pods three times longer than the plant’. Both feats are officially registered by the Limca Book of Records, India’s version of the Guinness World Records.

Rice is normally grown as an annual plant whose cultivation is labour-intensive and requires ample water. However Kumar, a commerce graduate with no formal qualification in agriculture, says careful planning has helped him address both concerns.

“I do everything by myself and that means spending 3-4 hours of my time every day to make up for the required manhours. Just sowing about 1,300 seeds took me almost a day,” said the man from Thrissur in Kerala.

“Water, the other main requirement is taken care of by my employers for this first-time experiment of mine. To prevent the water from draining, I have also made a bed of cement underneath,” explained the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority supervisor who earns Dh5,500 a month.

The 41-year-old dad of two who has won several awards, including a trophy from the Indian Association in Sharjah, is also cultivating wheat for the first time and hoping for the crop to harvest next month.

“I am not sure how big the yield will be, but it will be the culmination of an experiment to prove that both rice and wheat can be grown in this part of the world,” said the man who also grows brinjal, cauliflower, cabbage, okra, tomatoes for private consumption. The rice will harvest after a 90-day cycle next month, while the wheat should be ready after a 100-day cycle, around the same time, he said.

“I will be happy to help others grow vegetables in their backyard or balcony. Anyone can get in touch for free seeds from me. Organic farming is the key to healthy living and we must encourage it at all levels,” said the man who claims to be an “accidental” farmer.