National Plant Genome Awards for 2012 presented; farmers felicitated

Farmers from the State who won the national plant genome awards for 2012 were felicitated at a function at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra here on Saturday.

Kerala Agricultural University had sponsored and recommended the awardees. The awards were instituted by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Right (PPV&F R) Authority. Addressing the function, P.C. Chacko, MP, said the Union government hoped to convene a special session of Parliament to pass the Food Security Act.

Farmers of the Akampadam–Chimbachala Padasekhara Samithy, which won Plant Genome Saviour Community Award for 2012, urged the government to increase the procurement price of paddy.

The samithy comprises 110 farmers who cultivate paddy in 45 hectares. B. Pratheesh, secretary of the samithy, said the procurement price of Rs.17 was low.

“If the youth should take up farming and ensure our future food security, farm produce should fetch decent prices,” he said.

The samithy was selected for the award for protection of traditional varieties and conservation of germplasm.

The samithy had also partnered with KAU to produce the first ever varieties developed through participatory research, Kunjukunju Varna and Kunjukunju priya, as part of the innovative GALASA (Group Approach on Locally Adaptable and Sustainable Agriculture) programme introduced by KAU in 1999-2000. The germplasm conserved by Palakkad farmers have also been the gene source for many high yielding varieties.

N. Vasavan of Pachapoika in Kannur, who won the individual award, said agencies in the farm sector should promote substitutes for endosulfan.

Ciby George Kallingal of Patticaud, a recipient of the award, said farmers could earn a decent living through integrated farming. KAU officials described his 20-acre farm as a model farm. He grows plantation crops, exotic fruit trees, and keeps domestic animals, pets, ornamental birds and horses in his yard.

Sajeevan Kavungara, who won an award for promoting cultivation of leafy vegetables, said 62 varieties of leafy greens were ideal for growing in Kerala. “Kerala, which relies on neighbouring States for its vegetable needs, have not taken homestead farming seriously. Leafy greens may be grown in kitchen gardens,” he said.

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