Kerala

Group of tribesmen sets a model in pesticide-free farming

Members of Surya Tribal Self Help Group harvesting beans from their vegetable garden at Kavadam in Wayanad district.

Members of Surya Tribal Self Help Group harvesting beans from their vegetable garden at Kavadam in Wayanad district.  

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Five self-help groups, including three women’s groups, cultivate 16 acres of rented land

A group of tribesmen under the Kaniyampetta grama panchayat in Wayanad district of Kerala haS set a successful model in pesticide-free vegetable cultivation.

As many as 64 tribal families belong to Paniya and Mullakuruma tribal sects have grown 10 varieties of vegetables, including yard-long beans, bitter gourd, tomato, snake gourd, okra, and green chilli on 16 acres of rented land at Kavadom, Chittalur Kayakkunnu, and Nelliyambom near Nadavayal.

The vegetable promotion project was launched by the Scheduled Tribal Development Department under a special Central assistance to a tribal sub-plan in January. A sum of ₹9.64 lakh was provided for the purpose.

Five self-help groups (SHGs), including three women’s groups, have been constituted under the project and each group consists of 10 to 14 members. All expenses — including the rent of land, seeds, organic manure, pump sets for irrigation, agricultural implements, and wages — were borne by the department.

“Our produce is in good demand as our farming methods are transparent and can be viewed by anyone,” says A. Kavalan, tribal cheftain, Kavadam Paniya settlement, and president of the Surya SHG.

Lower prices

‘Though organic produce is priced at a premium, the SHGs sell vegetables at rates lower than the market price. Earlier, the members used to sell their produce to middlemen. Later, they entered into a tie-up with Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK) to avoid middlemen and to get a better income, says A. Manojkumar, a Committed Social Worker of the department.

“We sold nearly one tonne of yard-long beans through Kudumbasree at ₹22 a kg .The harvest of other vegetables will start soon,” K. Meenakshi, president of Arya SHG, said.

“While vegetable traders in nearby towns sell vegetables procured from Gundlupet in Karnataka at a higher price, we are able to sell pesticide-free produce at 20% to 25% lower than the market rate,” she said.

Profit expectations

“We expect a profit of ₹15 lakh from the project this season,” says N.J. Reji, tribal extension officer, Kaniyampetta grama panchayat.

“We were able to provide 60 working days to 64 families in the past two months. The profit from the project will be utilised as a revolving fund to expand vegetable cultivation to ensure a sustainable income to tribal members,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 5:02:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/tribes-set-a-model-in-pesticide-free-farming/article23702208.ece

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