Kanjikuzhy achieves a coup in veg production

The villagers started their ambitious scheme even before the People\'s Planning was introduced in Kerala.

ALAPPUZHA: The Kanjikuzhy village in the district, which has infertile soil, has achieved a revolution in organic vegetable production and won national recognition for its feat. The seeds of the vegetable revolution sown in 1995 have brought in astonishing results and the farmers harvested about 40,000 tonnes of vegetables last year. It has become the first vegetable-sufficient panchayat and and all 8,600 families in Kanjikuzhy grow their own vegetables.

The villagers started their ambitious scheme even before the People's Planning was introduced in Kerala. For this, the local administration set up ward-based 'Mazhamara' (an artificial habitat to grow vegetable saplings). Every family was given the saplings free of cost.

The panchayat turned the infertile sand fertile through long-term efforts. At present, beans, lady's finger, cabbage, green chilli, bitter gourd, snake gourd, cucumber, cauliflower, brinjal and cheera (red spinach) are grown abundantly in the soil.

Agricultural colleges and institutions across the country and foreign researchers have made Kanjikuzhy's transition to organic farming a subject of study. Mr. M.G. Raju, president of the panchayat, said that when they started the experiment in 1995, none knew what was organic farming. The residents turned the soil suitable for farming by sprinkling water on the periphery of the soil twice a day. "For the last 24 years, we have been practising the same method and we sell the surplus produce through Panchayat Development Society (PDS)" he said.

They introduced a slew of schemes and policies for proper irrigation and composing needed to grow vegetables. The panchayat administration made available organic compost at subsidised rates to 60 residents. They started growing vegetables on their rooftops and house premises. Now organic farming has become the main work of ward-based self-help groups as well. Ravikumar, a local resident, pointed out that every ward has at least 10 large-scale farmers who have received the full support of the panchayat, cooperative banks and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme. Most of the produce is being sold in the Kochi market, he added.

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