Growing organic vegetables is suitable for farmers with small landholdings and it can be profitable, said Billampadavu Narayan Bhatt Vittla, agriculturist and resource person, at an event on growing vegetables organised by Vijaya Rural Development Fund, Polali branch, and Ramakrishna Tapovan, a charitable trust, in Polali on Monday.

Speaking on how to grow and market vegetables in a cost-effective way, he said that large landholdings were not required to grow vegetables. He said he had been growing vegetables profitably for two years on 35 cents of land in Bantwal. A kg of okra could fetch up to Rs.120 in some seasons in Mangalore, he said.

However, there were certain guidelines to growing organic vegetables, he said. For example, it was important to time sowing of vegetables with the time when they were expected to be in the market. Growers must sow vegetables such that the vegetables could be sent to market at a time when they were in demand, in time for occasions such as Ayudha Puja, Christmas and Ramzan, when they could fetch a good price. “If you want to sow vegetables in June, you must start planning for it in January,” he said.

First, they must be planted in plastic glasses (in the use-and-throw type), then they could be transplanted. Vegetables could be grown organically and there was no need to use fertilizers. Vegetables must be planted on or a few days before no moon day to keep away pests, he said. He showed photos of white and red varieties of okra, red-stemmed leafy vegetables. He explained how seeds of vegetables could be removed and preserved for use in the next season. Let go of large-scale agriculture and take to small-scale agriculture such as growing vegetables. It was economically viable and healthy too, he said.

Mr. Bhat said that he spoke from his experience of having traded in organic vegetables for the past two years. He had invested Re. 1 and got Rs.3. There was a need to encourage people to continue with agriculture. People were forced to sell homes so they could go to big cities such as Bangalore for jobs because they did not get good returns from agriculture, he said.

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