ORIGIN: Ernakulam District Agri-Horticulture Society came into being way back in 1976, thanks to the stellar role played by Uppiliappan, the then district collector of Ernakulam. And, since its formation, the district collector acts as the ex-officio president of the organisation. An executive committee of five members runs the Society and each elected committee holds the office for two years.

Till recently, life membership was offered for a nominal fee of Rs. 500 and now, one has to dole out Rs. 5000 for the same. The annual membership fee of R.s 50 still remains . The Society has 358 life members. The members have the privilege of getting an additional 15 per cent discount on the products sold by the Society.

ACTIVITIES: The fact that the Agri-Horticulture Society does not have paid staff on its rolls doesn’t have a bearing on its multifaceted activities. It quite successfully runs a nursery of ornamental and fruit plants, seeds and saplings in the heart of the city at Park Avenue road.

All their products are sourced from Kerala Agricultural University at Thrissur and stipulate good quality. The nursery that’s run on a not-for-profit mode also provides hybrid seeds lower than the market price. The small yet well-stocked and subject oriented library at its office acts as a good reference destination. The members are also allowed to showcase their home-grown seeds and saplings at the nursery for sale.

Over the years, the Society has undertaken several projects to make the city greener and beautiful. It has been given the start-up responsibility to beautify pivotal areas such as the Collectorate, the Mobility Hub and the Central Police Station with gardens. The Cochin Flower Show, said to be its flagship programme and which saw its 32nd edition this year, has a great fan following across Kerala. Periodically, the Society collaborates with the Corporation of Cochin, residential associations and educational institutions to promote better understanding of the environment through distribution of saplings, seminars etc.

In 2009, for the first time in India, the Agri-Horticulture Society organised an International Anthurium Show in Kochi by importing 12,000 plants from Holland. Further, in 2011, when there was a furore against ripening mangoes using carbide, the Society went ahead to organise a Mango Fest at Marine Drive to effectively address the issue.

For the past three years, the Agri-Horticulture Society has been running an ambitious project, the biggest ever in its history, titled Peri-Urban Vegetable Initiative Programme. Promoted by the State Horticulture Mission, of which the Society is the implementation agency in Kochi, the project aims to cover 12,500 homes by growing vegetables on roof tops. “We could reach out to 11,000 homes and are moving ahead to meet the target by this fiscal”, remarks D. Radhakrishnan, secretary of the Society.

IMPACT: The Society, through its initiatives, could turn out to be an authentic ‘toll-free’ destination for agro-related guidance and query. It’s a much familiar name in the segment.

GETTING IN TOUCH: To know more about Agri-Horticulture Society and their various initiatives call 9447188443 (secretary) or 0484-2362738 (office). One can also email them at agrihortikochi@gmail.com