Thanks to a growing number of people whose kitchen gardens have boosted vegetable production in Kerala due to which the vegetable imports by the state have fallen steeply.
The Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan is beaming as nearly 75% of all vegetables consumed now in Kerala are grown within the state -- and in kitchen gardens.
Mohanan, who made the endeavor to boost vegetable production, said that his aim was to ensure that this figure reaches 100%. "Several factors have contributed to a substantial growth of the domestic vegetable production," the minister added.
In 2012, the production of vegetables in Kerala was a mere 22%. This made the state heavily dependent on Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for daily vegetable supplies. If there were traffic disruptions in the border regions of the two states, Kerala's vegetable imports would suffer -- immediately shooting up prices. So the minister decided to actively promote the concept of kitchen gardens in Kerala. Even students and schools were roped in for this purpose.
Eventually, the habit of "growing and eating one's own vegetables appears to have clicked. Today, practically in every state-run school, there is a kitchen garden and it is tended to by students," the minister said. Now the arrival of vegetables from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka has fallen to less than 400 trucks a day from over 750.
"Besides, we have set up biogas plants in 3,825 schools. Today, the vegetables grown in these schools are used in the mid-day meals. The waste generated is used to power the biogas plants," he added. 90% of these embrace organic techniques.
"We are confident that more and more people will start kitchen gardens," Mohanan added. Congress president in Kerala, V.M. Sudheeran, is one of those who has a full-fledged kitchen garden at his home and he is telling everyone in his constituency to follow suit. Marxist leader Pinarayi Vijayan too feels that people in Kerala should grow their own vegetables.
Cardiac specialist A. Haris says that: "70% of the vegetables we consume in our home are from our kitchen garden, set up on our terrace. I spare half an hour daily for the garden, produces cauliflower, cabbage, beans, tomatoes, chilly, ladies' finger and brinjal. Now I am trying to grow beetroot too".
"If more and more people take up kitchen gardens, not only will we get fresh vegetables but consume organically grown vegetables too," he added.