For once, the brick kilns of Kanjoor have shaken off their vile image of being pollution-spewing towers that the people of the riparian village, abutting Aluva, loathed a few years ago.
The break that the monsoon has forced on the brick baking industry in the village has been made use of by the practitioners of the ‘Jaiva Jeevitham’ organic farming programme to grow vegetables of assorted variety on the vast drying beds surrounding the kilns. With the people taking to organic farming in a big way, around six acres of sprawling land around these brick manufacturing units now have okra and other veggies ready for harvest.
P. Rajeev, district secretary of CPI(M), which spearheads the ‘Jaiva Jeevitham’ campaign, led the mass picking of the vegetable from the fields here on Thursday. “One must say it was a great opportunity cashed in on by the people. There’s no place better than the flat bed around a kiln to grow these vegetables during the rainy season when there’s a lay off and the labourers, almost invariably Tamils, have gone back home,” says T.K. Mohanan, district coordinator of the organic farming project.
As on date, some 15 acres in the panchayat have been brought under organic cultivation, growing almost everything from okra, bitter gourd, gherkins, snake gourd, beans, plantain, Chinese potato and the like, he says.
This, he said, owes quite a lot to the positive intervention of two banks — the Kizhakkumbhagam Service Cooperative Bank and the Kanjoor Service Cooperative Bank—and farming collectives, the Karshaka Sangham and self-help groups active in the village. “The icing on the cake is that produces from these fields will be made available at our organic vegetable stalls for the coming Onam.” Chipping in with their bit to add verve to the project are senior citizens of the village, who have carved out an acre-and-a-half on the banks of the Periyar to grow the vegetables of their choice. Kanjoor is one place in Ernakulam where the movement has really taken roots, says Mr. Mohanan