The general belief is that the cucumber symbolises everything positive about life. The vegetable is an integral part of ‘Vishukanni’ because the Malayali believes that sighting it after waking up at dawn on the ‘Vishu’ day would prove auspicious for him or her for the rest of the year.
With an eye on Vishu, farmers have started switching over to the cultivation of cucumber. A bumper harvest will stand them in good stead because there is going to be a heavy demand for the vegetable.
As paddy farming has not been profitable in recent times, the farmers have been forced to think out-of-the-box. They have found February suitable to start farming cucumber because the saplings need at least two months to be ready for harvest. As ‘Vishu’ falls in April, the farmers look forward to a good yield which would fetch them handsome returns in the market.
“More and more farmers are attracted to cucumber cultivation as they find it a lucrative. It takes hardly two-three months for the harvest,” says Mercy Thomas, Project Director of the ATMA (Agricultural Technology Marketing Agency).
Earlier, truck loads of Kani Vellari for Vishu used to come from Tamil Nadu and Kanataka.
The area under cultivation of cucumber has increased considerably during the last few years. Now, the local farmers are offering a sizeable quantity of vellari to the Vishu market, she says.
Cucumber has been cultivated on hectares of land in Kadavallur, Kattakambal, Kadangode, Velur panchayats in Chovvannur block, says K.S. Sreedevi, field assistant of ATMA. “Kudumbasree units and individual farmers are doing the cultivation in their own land and sometimes in leased land.
The cultivation generally starts soon after the paddy harvest. However, shortage of water prevents farmers from expanding the area under cultivation” says Ms. Sreedevi. ATMA has plans to cultivate elephant yam on one acre of land on the compound of the Thrissur Mental Health Centre. The agency has already developed vegetable gardens on the compounds of the collectorate, district court and Kuttanellur Government College.