Second year of scheme to include distribution of 50 lakh seed kits in schools

In a bid to maintain the momentum towards self-sustainability started last year through the State Agriculture Department’s comprehensive vegetable cultivation development scheme, funds to the tune of Rs.56.25 crore are being set aside for the purpose this financial year.

The inauguration of the second year of the scheme and a prize distribution ceremony based on last year’s achievements were held at Cotton Hill Government Higher Secondary School for Girls here on Tuesday.

Around 50 lakh seed kits will be distributed for free in all schools this year. On July 20, students will plant the seeds they have been given in their houses. The project aims at turning 12,000 hectares of land into vegetable gardens to yield a surplus of 96,000 tonnes of vegetables from schools itself. The schools will be financially supported to carry out such activities. Taking into account community-based and block-panchayat level activities, the scheme aims to improve production by 2.65 crore tonnes.

Minister for Agriculture K.P. Mohanan, who inaugurated the second year of the scheme, noted how the students were able to take up the campaign in the right spirit.

Underlining the objectives of self-sustainability and safe-to-eat vegetables, the Minister said the schools would be financially aided to set up biogas plants.

Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar spoke of how promoting the programme had a huge impact in terms of health, as the vegetables brought into the State could be contaminated by hazardous pesticides. “Urbanisation has reduced the capacity for cultivation, as there is simply no space for growth. But through such interventions, we can bring back a culture where people consciously grow their own vegetables in the little space they have available, or on terraces,” Mr. Sivakumar said.

A prize distribution ceremony to applaud the achievements of certain schools, organisations, and individuals in promoting vegetable cultivation was held. Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor and district panchayat president Ansajitha Russel and vice-president Rufus Daniel were present.

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