The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) functioning under the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) has launched an initiative to promote cultivation of poison-free vegetables for Onam.
Encouraged by the success of last year’s project, ‘Ponnonaththinoru pookkooda’, to promote flower farming, the KVK has conceived the programme, ‘Onaththinoru kutta pachhakkari’ (A basketful of vegetables for Onam).
Under the programme, high-yielding vegetable seedlings will be distributed in the first week of August so that they will be ready for harvest during Onam, which falls in September.
Seedlings of brinjal, bitter gourd, snake gourd, cowpea, green amaranth, pumpkin, bhindi, chilli and curry leaf will be given. The KVK also provides micronutrient kits to enhance yield and offers guidance on vegetable cultivation.
“A major advantage of raising vegetables in one’s own backyard is the assurance that the produce does not contain any pesticide residue,” said P. Rajendran, KAU Vice Chancellor. “Studies by the Pesticide Residue Research and Analysis Laboratory under KAU have detected dangerous levels of pesticide residue in samples of common vegetables collected from sales outlets across the State.
The study detected residues of several pesticides, including Profenophos, a neurotoxic pesticide banned in Kerala and restricted to tea and cotton in other States, and Chlorpyrifos, another neurotoxin. Demand for poison-free vegetables is on the rise.
KAU Director of Extension P.V. Balachandran said those who wished to eat poison-free food and escape the steep rise in food prices should think of growing vegetables in the backyards or terraces of their houses.
“Vegetable cultivation does not require full-time attention. The little time spend on the plants is worth as it ensures healthy food,” he added.
Ranjan S. Karippai, KVK Head, said that KVK was a major seed production centre of KAU. About two tonnes of quality vegetable seeds is produced every year. The germination percentage of seeds is tested before distribution. The Kerala State Seed Development Authority and the Department of Agriculture are the main buyers of seed from KVK. This year, the KVK plans to expand the area for seed production with the aid of a newly-dug tube well. The target for 2014-15 is three tonnes of seeds.
Jalaja Menon, Horticulturist at KVK, said there was high demand in the district for seeds of cowpea and bitter gourd. KVK’s ash gourd and pumpkin seeds are also popular.
To ensure prompt supply of seeds, the KVK has introduced a pre-registration scheme. Those who wish to procure seeds may register through Krishi Bhavans. Farmer clubs, Kudumbasree units and housing colonies may register their names directly.
The last date for registration is July 16. For details, contact- 0487-2375855 or 8281683239.