Tissue-cultured saplings to be made available to the public
Saplings of ‘Vengeri brinjal,’ an indigenous variety of brinjal popularised by the residential forum ‘Niravu Vengeri,’ will soon be available commercially with the Centre for Environment and Development, an autonomous research and development body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, deciding to tissue culture and make it widely available to the public.
A team of biotechnology scientists from the Centre for Environment and Development visited Vengeri on Wednesday and collected shoot tips of brinjal plants for the purpose.
B. Kavitha, one of the scientists, said it was a wild, high yielding and pest resistant variety of brinjal, which needed to popularised and made available to a wider number of people.
“We are planning to produce the saplings in a few months’ time and make them available to a wider consumer base,” said Dr. Kavitha.
The Kerala Agricultural University had recently granted a certificate of merit stating that the ‘Vengeri Brinjal’ was high yielding, relatively tasty and suitable for backyard vegetable gardens.
A study conducted by P. Indira, Professor of Horticulture and Olericulture Department of Kerala Agricultural University, had found the variety to have an average length of 44 cm and 12.5 cm thickness.
Taller than others
The brinjal plant, which was taller than other varieties, was found to have given a yield of around 2 kg per plant on an average during the experiment.
Members of the Niravu Residential Forum had been growing this variety of brinjal on their homesteads ever since they collectively took to organic farming in 2006.
In 2009 when agitations against BT brinjal erupted across the country, the Niravu Residential Forum had responded to the development by producing as many as 1 lakh seedlings of this variety of brinjal and distributing them among people from different parts of the region.
The Niravu Residential Forum presently has over 100 households and many of the households have their own backyard vegetable gardens.
Most of them are also members of the Farmers’ Club that runs with financial aid from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).
M. Pradeepkumar, secretary of the residential forum, said the shoot tips required for tissue culturing were collected from the brinjal plants at the gardens of the Farmers’ Club members.
Once saplings of the ‘Vengeri Brinjal’ are produced through the tissue culture technology, the Centre for Environment and Development will also take the initiative to make it available to the maximum number of people in the region.
Self- help groups
“We are planning to dispense it to the people with the help of different self groups in Thiruvananthapuram,” said Dr. Kavitha, who was accompanied by Dr. Jayanthi T.A., her colleague from Centre for Environment and Development.