As many as 63 lakh households across the State are expected to join hands with local bodies, Kudumbasree units, students, manual labourers, vegetable clusters, public institutions, residents associations, and voluntary agencies in a massive participatory campaign aimed at making Kerala self-sufficient in vegetable production.
Set to be launched on Wednesday under the Haritha Keralam mission, the campaign titled Onathinu Orumuram Pachakari (a basket full of vegetables for Onam) will focus on enhancing the domestic production of safe-to-eat vegetables through terrace cultivation.
“It is as much an attempt to revive our long-lost agricultural traditions as an effort to reduce our dependence on other States for vegetables,” said Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar.
Apart from homestead cultivation, the campaign will encourage horticultural activities on fallow land, schools, colleges, and government institutions. It also involves the establishment of special agricultural zones for horticulture, with farmers getting access to easy credit, good quality seeds and farm equipment. Good agricultural practices will be promoted.
The government will also make arrangements for procurement and marketing to ensure that the farmer is adequately rewarded and the produce reaches the consumer in farm fresh condition.
The programme will be dovetailed with the State’s organic farming policy.
“There was a time when households relied on the kitchen garden for their daily requirement of vegetables such as papaya, bitter gourd, ivy gourd, colocasia or curry leaves. That tradition which ensured the supply of safe-to-eat vegetables slowly gave way to the reliance on imported vegetables heavily laced with pesticides, with the result that lifestyle diseases, cancer and several tropical diseases have emerged as a challenge for the State,” Mr. Kumar said in an article released for publication.
He said the situation could still be salvaged by returning to the old tradition of producing food for household consumption.
The Agriculture Department had made arrangements to distribute 63 lakh seed packets, 45 lakh vegetable saplings, and 100,000 growbags from Wednesday. Wards have been instituted for the best producers in various categories, including women and clusters.