The Kudumbasree district mission will launch group farming in Edamalakkudy, the remotest tribal grama panchayat in Idukki district. A team of officials of Kudumbasree had visited the grama panchayat recently and the Kudumbasree unit, which was almost non-functional, was relaunched there.

District mission co-ordinator G.S. Madhu told The Hindu on Sunday that the grama panchayat had earmarked Rs 15 lakh for launching the group farming project and in the first phase 150 acres of land will be brought under rice and other paddy varieties like kurumbullu cultivation. The panchayat was formed on November 1 last year and the Kudumbasree joint liability groups will be launched on November 2, he said.

The focus is to make the village self-sufficient in vegetable and rice cultivation, Mr. Madhu said and added that at present all the food items are brought from Munnar and for a kilogram of any item, Rs 9 has to be shared for carrying it on head load from Pettymudy to Edamalakkudy, a distance of nearly 15 kilometres through the forest.

Mr. Madhu said that though the area is known for highly fertile soil, the tribals said that the reason for abandoning cultivation was due to the frequent raiding by wild beasts including elephants. “Now the people depend for all farm items to reach there on head load,” he said and added that the panchayat has all the avenues for making it self-sufficient in agriculture production.

The panchayat had decided to make trenches around the settlements using the work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. This will save the cultivation from destruction by the wild animals. He also said that experts in organic cultivation led by the Kudumbasree mission will provide training to the people there on November 18 and it will be visited by the officials to oversee the progress of farming.

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