The hi-tech vegetable seedling centre at Nadukkara in Muvattupuzha is nearing its target of producing one crore seedlings in one-and-a-half years.
The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council of Kerala (VFPCK)-led hi-tech plug nursery holds the status of the only such seedling centre under the Department of Agriculture in the State.
It is functioning on the 4.9-acre land under the VFPCK. The officials said that the target of producing about one crore hi-tech seedlings would be achieved by June. Four poly-houses spread over 1,536 sq.m have been set up at the centre. Other facilities include automated seeding machine, fertigation system, and automated climate centre, according to an official release. From the preparation of the organic soil additive to the production and distribution of seedlings, each process being carried out at the centre is hi-tech. The facility was inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on December 16, 2017. Nearly 23 vegetable seedlings are produced at the centre. In addition, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and capsicum saplings produced during the winter season. The nursery is intended to make available to farmers high quality seedlings. Farmers prefer to use seedlings instead of seeds these days, which saves precious time and ensures there is no loss due to seeds not sprouting. Non-availability of seedlings in the favourable season for cultivation is a major issue, which is being addressed by the nursery that can produce 2 crore seedlings annually.
The demand at the local level has also gone up, considering the ₹2 fixed for each seedling. The devastating August floods had hit the functioning of the centre hard after it lost around 37,000 seedlings. However, the facility has now made a comeback by raising the production of seedlings, according to the release.