Thiruvanthapuram, July 21: Vegetable imports by Kerala have fallen steeply, thanks to a growing number of people whose kitchen gardens have boosted vegetable production in the state. And Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohan is beaming. According to Mohan, nearly 75 percent of all vegetables consumed now in Kerala are grown within the state — and in kitchen gardens. Mohan, who made the endeavour to boost vegetable production, told IANS that his aim was to ensure that this figure reaches 100 percent. “Several factors have contributed to a substantial growth of the domestic vegetable production,” the minister said. In 2012, the production of vegetables in Kerala was a mere 22 percent. This made the state heavily dependent on Kartaka and Tamil du 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. And so Mohan 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”, the minister said. Now the arrival of vegetables from Tamil du and Kartaka has fallen to less than 400 trucks a day from over 750. “Today, practically in every state-run school, there is a kitchen garden and it is tended to by students,” said Mohan.
“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. Ninety percent of these embrace organic techniques. “We are confident that more and more people will start kitchen gardens,” Mohan added. Congress president in Kerala, V.M. Sudheeran, is one of those who has a full-fledged kitchen garden at his home. (IANS)