In four days, the Horticulture Department has cleared its first stock of 300 kitchen-garden kits.
“Finding the response to be tremendous, the department has placed a fresh order for 700 kits. Each kit costs Rs. 2,650 and we are selling it at a subsidised price of Rs.1,325,” says Mohammed Naseer, Horticulture Officer.
The initiative is a part of ‘Do It Yourself,’ a recently introduced Urban Horticulture Development Scheme, which aims to encourage the urban population to cultivate their own vegetables and fruits in the limited space available to them.
Besides senior-citizens and women, the scheme received support from IT professionals and college students.
A kit consists of 20 grow bags, seeds, 2 kg coir pith, sprayer, water-soluble fertilizers, polythene spread sheets, hand trowel, hand fork and a manual.
“We also provide seeds of tomatoes, brinjal, chillies, lady’s finger, coriander, radish and all types of green leaves,” says Naseer.
“Instead of raising ornamental plants, we should look at cultivating our own native species. When we grow plants, we have to factor in our climate and geography,” says Naseer.
To give an example, he said that the female anopheles which caused malaria, thrived in tropical climate. “India lies in the tropical belt; when we know we are susceptible to vector-borne diseases, we should have papaya trees, whose leaves have therapeutic properties to help cure the disease. They have an amazing ability to restore the dwindling red blood corpuscles (RBC) count when one is down with dengue or malaria.”
He said that radish was good for liver and stomach and was an excellent detoxifier. It cleared the symptoms of piles. It also had anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties and acts as disinfectant to protect the excretory system.
“Due to an obsession about landscape designing and interior designing, we have pushed aside our own indigenous plants given prominence to ornamental plants,” he pointed out.
This initiative by the State aims to make organic fruits and vegetables affordable and accessible to city dwellers by assisting them in cultivation.
The compact kit has been designed, taking into the account one of the unavoidable aspects of urban living, limited space.
“Now, those residents of Chennai who live in pigeonhole apartments can try their hand at farming like those who live in the countryside,” he said