City students assist veteran farmers in sales
It was an unlikely collaboration but it worked well. Veteran farmers from the outskirts of the State capital and city-bred students seamlessly handled the business of a ‘Sunday Market’ that sprung up at the Kanakakkunnu Palace grounds here.
As armloads of vegetables practically disappeared from the display tables, S. Chandran could not have been more pleased. A farmer based at Venjaramoodu, he has been coordinating the activities of around 160 farmers in Vamanapuram block. This collective of farmers upholds the ‘organic’ banner, and 10 of them were invited to showcase their products for the final event of the fifth Bala Krishi Shastra Congress, organised by the Agri Friends Krishi Samskarika Vedi and the State Agriculture Department.Farmers happy
Even as the heat sapped the vitality from their produce by evening, Mr. Chandran and the others with him were certain that customers would seek them out because of the quality of their produce, untainted by any chemical. A few cynics questioned just exactly how pure their vegetables were.
“This happens every time. We have only recently, with the help of Agri Friends, started selling our products in the city. We have been organising Sunday markets in housing colonies, including the EMS Housing Board colony in Pattoor. They are doubtful at first, but once they taste the difference, they insist that we come more often,” Mr. Chandran said.
The children included a group of National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers from Cotton Hill Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School who were there on their ‘Karshika Saksharatha Mission.’ The school itself has an impressive farm, but interacting with farmers has been far more fruitful than any textbook knowledge on farming practices, they said.
Among other activities of the Agriculture Department, this congress is an integral programme for building awareness among school students of engaging in agricultural activities.
Agri Friends coordinator K. Jayakumar said this year’s event focussed on hygiene and food safety, an issue that needed to be taken more seriously in light of more products being brought from other States.
Helping the farmers was another, smaller, group of school students who represented the Abhiramom Krishipadam Club at Mariyapuram, Neyyattinkara taluk. They were led by their president – 15-year-old Abhijith who won this year’s award for the best Child Agricultural Scientist, the second time he is doing so.
Working alongside the farmers was invaluable for him, he said, for he could directly consult with them on the kind of activities that his club was working on, including nurturing a tapioca farm.