Preserving Native Vegetables Organically

By TheHindu on 30 Jun 2015 | read
Director of Horticulture Department K. Ramakrishnappa picked up a flat variety of red tomato, which is a native species of Madanapally in Andhra Pradesh, and said: “This tomato has more shelf life … one tomato is enough for preparing rasam.” He then showed the “pisant” tomato with its protruding tip and having the characteristics of the Madanapally tomato.

The Madanapally and pisant tomato are among the 20 different native tomatoes, which are slowly becoming extinct. The biocentre of the Department of Horticulture at Hulimavu, off Bannerghatta Road, is developing seeds of these varieties and 70 other native vegetables as part of the National Horticultural Mission. It is also working on preserving many medicinal plants.

“These vegetables are nutritious and can be grown at a lower cost, even in kitchen gardens,” Mr. Ramakrishnappa told presspersons on Saturday. The biocentre, with the assistance of voluntary organisations, is attempting to conserve native vegetables that has all the features of the land they are grown in. “We have to organically grow these vegetables and retain them for the future. We are also trying to preserve the organic status of the land and the activity of microbes, which is being harmed by use of pesticides,” he says.

Training of farmers

The biocentre is holding training programmes for farmers to create awareness about the benefits of growing native vegetables using organic techniques. “The farmers get a good yield with less use of water. We train farmers in conserving the seeds to grow it the next season,” Mr. Ramakrishna said and added, “the programmes are conducted by those who are already using the techniques in their lands.”

Seed development

Apart from tomato, the centre has developed seeds of nine varieties of brinjal, 13 varieties of capsicum, six varieties of cucurbits, four varieties of cucumber and five varieties of a green vegetable popularly known as “garake soppu”. It is conducting crop evaluation trials for four varieties of gherkin, carrot and beetroot. It is also evaluating the produce of seven varieties of water melon, nine varieties of musk melon and six varieties of broccoli. The centre is offering these seeds free of cost and also providing knowledge about various organic farming techniques.

On Saturday, the biocentre conducted one of the training programmes on growing mangos using organic techniques. “This is the right time to make farmers use the techniques when flowering begins,” said Joint Director of Biocentre M. Vishwanath. Farmers, including Mr. Mahaveer from Chitradurga and Mr. Kabadi from the city, were among those who made presentations. Farmers from different parts of the State attended the programme.