Kerala Agricultural University’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) plans to produce three tonnes of vegetable seeds in 2012-2013. KVK programme coordinator Koshy Abraham told The Hindu that the Kendra would produce quality seeds of cowpea, bitter gourd pumpkin, ash gourd, cucumber, ladies’ finger, green chilli, brinjal, bottle gourd and watermelon, and seedlings of cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, onion, radish and carrot.
The KVK is a major source of truthfully labelled seeds (those sold by farmers or companies that accurately show quality parameters on their labels) for farmers. Between 2008 and 2012, KVK produced seven tonnes of vegetable seeds.
“This is a major contribution to the State’s food security,” said Dr. Abraham. The State requires about 30 lakh tonnes of vegetables a year. Only about 17 lakh tonnes of vegetables is locally produced. The per capita cultivable area is 0.077 hectare. High labour cost and shortage of labour are major constraints in vegetable production.
Since its inception, the KVK has produced seeds and seedlings worth Rs. 1 crore. In 2010-2011, the KVK produced seeds of cowpea (287.5 kg), ash gourd (427 kg), watermelon (38 kg), cucumber (15.25 kg), bitter gourd (230.75 kg), tapioca (1.062 kg), turmeric (400 kg), pumpkin (180 kg), amaranthus (17.1kg), snake gourd (33 kg), ridge gourd (1.25 kg) and tomato (31 g). It also sold 1,640 papaya seedlings, 336 sq. ft. of lawn grass, 3,463 mango grafts, 1,600 chicks, 25 turkeys and 203 turkey eggs.
The KVK offers technical advice on plant protection, agronomy, horticulture, agricultural engineering, livestock production management and home science. “The KVK is trying to promote mixed farming in homesteads, a major agricultural system in the district. The major crops include paddy, coconut, arecanut, nendran banana, plantains, mango, pineapple, vegetables, nutmeg, cashew, tapioca and rubber. Farmers also rear cattle, buffalo, goat, pig, rabbit and poultry,” said F. Mary Regina, associate professor, KVK.
At the initiative of KVK, Harithasree and Udyanasree women’s self-help groups have been formed.
Each group has 12 members. Under KVK’s supervision, the Thrissur District Flower Growers’ Cooperative Marketing Society, a self-employed group, was formed.
Farmers supported by KVK have won State awards. P. G. Jayachandran of Thiruvilwamala, M. B. Gopalakrishnan of Muriyad, Geetha Karthikeyan and Sabira Moosa won the Karshakottama, Ksheeradhara, Karshakathilakom and Udyana Shrestha awards.
“The KVK now focuses on high-tech farming and protected cultivation. Any farmer who wants technical support and quality planting material can contact KVK at 0487-2375855,” said Dr. Abraham.