Over 75 per cent of vegetables in the State’s markets are being brought from outside its borders and in a bid to reverse this trend, the State Agriculture Department has launched a vegetable cultivation programme at government offices. Next in line after the offices of the District Collector, the District Judge, and two Additional Chief Secretaries, are the two acres of land at the Special Armed Police (SAP) Camp.

Preparations are over and trainees and personnel here are already trained in manual and mechanised cultivation, said C.L. Mini, Agriculture Officer at Kudappanakkunnu. They have also been given awareness of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ pests. The project at the SAP camp is being jointly organised by the Agriculture and Police Departments.

Vegetables are being grown on a seasonal basis. The summer variety includes tomato, cow pea, brinjal, and ladies’ fingers and they have already started to bud at the office farms. Personnel from the respective offices nurse the crops. Since the grow-bags were in a ready-to-use kit, this task was not going to take up much time or resources of the staff, said Ms. Mini.

The department had previously launched similar projects, with the motto of ‘self-sufficiency in vegetable cultivation,’ in schools and the official residences of Ministers, including that of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan.

Cliff House at Nanthancode, the Chief Minister’s residence, has a compound that sprawls over two acres and this land will be made available for cultivation. Only terrace farming was taken up here last year.

“These are independent projects and they all aim to bring down the influx of products from other States. Getting vegetables from other States not only affects our economy but hazardous chemicals that go into their cultivation are also detrimental to our health. All government offices will come under the ambit of this programme, be it upon terraces using grow-bags or on unutilised land,” Ms. Mini said.