Vazhuthoor ward in Neyyattinkara municipality in the district has made commendable progress in its efforts to achieve food security with the cooperation of the local body and the people.

The Swabhimanam Self-Sufficiency programme spearheaded by ward councillor Vinod Sen, launched three-and-a-half years ago, has ensured that vegetable, milk and poultry requirements of 517 households in Vazhuthoor are met from within the ward.

“We have 517 houses that consume around 300 litres of milk, 650 eggs and vegetables costing Rs.4,000 daily. This amounts to approximately Rs.3.48 lakh a month. Three years ago, our ward produced food items costing Rs.1.5 lakh. The rest was bought from Tamil Nadu. It was in this scenario that we started the project under the aegis of the Swadeshabhimani Cultural Centre and Neyyattinkara Municipality,'' said Mr. Sen.

The main objective of the project was food security and poverty alleviation. This was done by forming farmers' groups, linking them with banks and providing them the benefit of subsidies and projects of government agencies. Farmers were encouraged to take up fallow land on lease for faming with the cooperation of nationalised banks like Canara Bank, which offered agricultural loan to farmers.

There are five farmers' clubs functioning in Vazhuthoor now. The farmers' clubs also organised programmes to create awareness of environmental issues such as global warming and climate change.

“The main crops cultivated in the fields of Vazhuthoor are plantain and tapioca. Now other varieties of vegetables like ‘nankizhangu,' colocasia (‘chembu') and yam are being cultivated. Now we are producing enough and more of milk, eggs and vegetables in our ward,” Mr Sen said.

In order to promote homestead farming, seeds and manure are distributed free through the Haritha Nagaram project. A fruit plant was planted in every house.

Kudumbasree women's self-help groups like poultry units, milk marketing units, dry cleaning units and direct marketing units were also launched as part of the Swabhimanam Self-Sufficiency Programme.

“The milk marketing unit is running successfully. We are a group of 10 women and we have 26 cows in total. We sell around 70 litres of milk daily. Other dairy farmers in the ward also bring milk to our unit for marketing,'' said Beena Rajan of Nirma Milk Marketing Unit. “The best part of this project is that we are able to get pure, fresh food products, be it milk, egg or vegetables,” she added.

The Neyyattinkara municipality plans to implement similar food security projects in its other wards. “We will make use of schemes like the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana and Kudumbasree schemes to fund such projects in other wards,” Neyyattinkara municipality secretary Binu Francis said.

Keywords: Food security