‘Good practice’ tag for farmers who took the organic route in Nedumangad

Many farmers registered with the Rural Agriculture Wholesale Market (RAWM), established at Nedumangad with funds from the European Union, will shortly get the GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certificate after a recent study by the Pesticide Residue Laboratory of the Kerala Agriculture University confirmed that they depended less on pesticides and more on organic fertilizers to cultivate vegetables. The certificate is issued by the State Agriculture Department.

Laboratory testing of five vegetables — bitter gourd, snake gourd, cucumber, ivy gourd, and cowpea — revealed that the level of pesticides in these products was far below the permissible limit, said Thomas Biju Mathew, Professor, Pesticide Residue Laboratory, Kerala Agriculture University, Vellayani. The laboratory analysis was conducted in January and February and periodic testing would be done to check whether the standards were maintained, he said.

The vegetable products of these farmers would be branded and shortly be up for sale at the Horticorp outlet near Pazhavangadi, said Valsa Augustine, secretary, Rural Agriculture Wholesale Market (RAWM). Around 300 farmers from Nedumangad, Vamanapuram, Kazhakuttom, and Kattakada blocks had registered with the market committee. Of them, around 20 were likely to qualify for the GAP certification. This financial year alone, around 300 tonnes of banana and 250 tonnes of vegetables were auctioned and around Rs.1.8 crore was raised, she said.

Vegetables produced by farmers with GAP tag would be procured by RAWM and Horticorp after giving the farmers a premium of 15 per cent of the highest bid amount, she said. A sum of Rs.50 lakh had been sanctioned to improve the infrastructure and Rs.20 lakh for setting up a ripening chamber, she said.

The RAWM at Nedumangad was one of the six markets built in the State from the Rs.32.38-crore European Union fund. To develop the market at Nedumangad in 5.5 hectares, Rs.5 crore was spent. The market was opened in 2004, she added.