Students during the Rice Harvest Festival of Paddy Cultivation by Green Life Organic Farming. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Sharjah: The backyard of a villa in Sharjah turned out to be the venue for the UAE’s first rice harvest festival for students on Friday morning.

Dressed like farmers from the South Indian state of Kerala, students from three Indian schools in the emirate literally reaped what they sowed some five months ago.

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Indian expatriate Sudheesh Guruvayoor, hailing from Kerala, gave them the first-hand experience in harvesting the paddy that they had cultivated in the backyard of his villa.

It had taken almost four months for Sudheesh to turn the desert soil into a patch of paddy field where teachers, parents and community members also turned up in good numbers for the harvest festival.

Susan Benoy, a biology teacher who had brought her students for the transplantation of rice seedlings earlier, said the children were excited to see the fully grown paddy crop.

Despite the 40 degree heat, the students were all ears to know how to reap the mature paddy crop using sickles. They also learnt to separate the grains from the stalks by threshing them in an area arranged for the purpose.

As the harvesting and threshing progressed, the ethnic attires, accessories and tools of farmers and folk songs played in the background added to the festive ambience.

Speaking to Gulf News, the students reiterated that they learnt two great lessons from their experience — the value of the great efforts taken by farmers in helping to feed the world and the need to stop food wastage.

“This is our first experience in this [harvesting]. We have understood the difficulties of the farmers … We are very happy to get this chance in the UAE and we will not waste food anymore,” said Aryashree Mohan, a grade nine student.

Devika Ratnakaran, also studying in ninth, said: “We just have learnt in biology about how farming is done. Now, we have done it by ourselves and we are very thankful to this uncle who gave us this chance.”

Sudheesh, an electrical engineer-turned-farm supervisor who has five world records to his credit in the field of farming in the UAE, said he was happy that he could make the expat children learn how rice is cultivated. “I hope they will now value the work of farmers and will not waste food.”

Y.A. Rahim, president of Indian Association Sharjah, and other office-bearers from the association also took part in the harvest festival dressed as farmers and congratulated Sudheesh for his efforts.