Excess produce to be collected from houses and sold

The State Horticulture Mission, in association with the District Agri-Horticulture Society, is planning to market organic vegetables produced under its Peri-urban Terrace Vegetable Farming project in the district towards the end of this year.

The marketing of excess vegetables produced under the project is likely to be taken up by October soon after a harvesting festival during Onam, covering the first batch of 3,500 to 4,000 households which would have been covered under the project by then.

During the post-harvest period, focus will be on redistributing seedlings, organic manure and fertilizers to these households to ensure the continuity of the project. “Excess vegetables in these households will be collected for marketing during such visits for replenishing raw materials,” D. Radhakrishnan, secretary, District Agri-Horticulture Society, told The Hindu.

The terrace farming project was initially introduced in Thiruvananthapuram last year before launching it here in May this year with the funding of the State Horticulture Mission. It is being implemented by the District Agri-Horticulture Society and the district administration with the support of residents’ associations.

Surplus output

Jacob Varghese, assistant professor at Sacred Heart’s College, Thevara, who works closely with the project said that the Horticulture Mission could buy vegetables as the output could prove excess in many households with fewer family members.

The project has been allocated Rs.2.50 crore to cover 12,500 households in the district and this target is likely to be achieved well inside the ongoing financial year. Mr. Varghese said that the project has already covered the city and has been introduced in Thrikkakara and Tripunithura municipalities in a limited manner. It will be started in Maradu, Kalamassery, and Thiruvankulam municipalities shortly.

Heeding the demand of residents’ associations in municipal areas, the subsidy component of the project has been enhanced, bringing down the price of the kit distributed from Rs.800 to Rs.400.

The kit comprises 20 ultraviolet stabilised bags containing a mixture of red soil, river sand, dry cow dung, and coco peat sprayed with pseudomonas bacterium to protect against decay, and also seedlings and seeds. So far, the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam has supplied seedlings of chilli, brinjal, tomato and lady’s finger. Volunteers of the Horticulture Mission and the Horticulture Society help plant these seedlings and monitor the progress of farming. “During our visits, very few seedlings were found defective, that too due to carelessness, and were promptly replaced,” said Mr. Varghese.

Households are given a handbook explaining effective farming ways and to identify and fight pests that attack vegetables. A monitoring committee chaired by the District Collector and the District Agri-Horticulture Society secretary, the Kanayannur tahsildar, Principle Agriculture Officer, and Deputy Director of Horticulture Mission as members meets at least once a month to review the progress of the project.