KOCHI: Don’t be surprised if the next time you go to your temple the priest offers you a collection of vegetables along with the prasadam. The initiative, which is being launched by Cochin Devasom Board (CDB), begins this Onam at all temples that come under its jurisdiction.
According to Cochin Devaswom Board president M K Sudarshan, in order to cater to the rising demand for vegetables, especially during festivals like Onam, the board has decided to promote organic farming at all the temples which come under it. “The state depends heavily on the neighbouring states to meet its veggie requirements. The demand usually goes up during festival seasons. So does the price too,” he said.
Through this initiative the CDB also aims to make the devotees more socially responsible and promote organic farming. Hundreds of temples under the board have joined the initiative, which has been receiving a lot of push from nearly all political parties in the state.
“There are as many as 403 temples under the Devaswom Board and around 400 acres of land is available for organic vegetable farming,” the CDB president told ‘Express’. He said, the latest initiative is being launched under the second phase of ‘Green Temple’ (Haritha kshetram) project conceived by the board. “On January 30, this year, the board planted as many as 25,000 saplings on the compounds of its temples. The tree planting drive was conducted as part of the project.”
We hope to prompt more people to visit the temples and also create a positive environment around the places of worship since it is very vital for a healthy society, he said.
“The programme being implemented as part of the ‘Onathinu Oru Muram Visharahitha Pachakkari’ project has the backing of Kerala Agriculture department. The department will provide the seeds and manure required for the gardens at subsidised rates. Also, Kerala Agriculture University, Social Forestry department and Kerala Forest Research Institute are part of Haritha Kshetram project,” said Sudharshan. The initiative has been received with great enthusiasm by all the temple committees, said CDB president.
Around one acre of land owned by Chottanikara Devi temple has been turned into a vegetable garden. Biju R Pillai, manager of the temple, said, “The committee has been cultivating vegetables on one acre of land near the temple. We are growing plantains and other essential vegetables. Apart from this, we have planted a ‘star forest’ close to the temple premise as part of Haritha Kshethram project.”
The CDB president said, the vegetable project is being implemented with the help of temple advisory committees and local residents. “The decision regarding the market for the produce and the maintenance of the temple farm will be taken at the next meeting of the Devaswom Board. Vegetables like ladies finger, cow pea, brinjal, chilly, ash gourd, pumpkin etc will be cultivated in the first phase,” he added.
Earlier, the Devaswom Board initiated steps to promote star forests on temple compounds. The board also encouraged the committees to grow medicinal herbs and flowers needed for pujas on their compounds. “However, this is the first time the board launched a project with government support. Fund for the first phase was collected from local sponsors. The board will fully undertake the project once it gets fully implemented,” said CDB officials.
The formal inauguration of the project was done by Agriculture Minister V S Sunilkumar at Triprayar Sree Rama Temple compound on Friday in Thrissur.
Going the organic way
There are as many as 403 temples under the Devaswom Board
Around 400 acres of land are available for vegetable farming
The project comes under the second phase of the Haritha Kshetram project conceived by the Devaswom Board
The Devaswom Board has planted as many as 25,000 tree saplings in various temple compounds on January 30, 2017 as part of the project
The vegetable project being implemented as part of the ‘Onathinu Oru Muram Visharahitha Pachakkari’ project of the state government
The state government will provide planting materials and fertiliser for the project in subsidy rates
The vegetable project is being implemented with the help of temple advisory committees and local people in the area concerned
The market for selling the produces and the maintenance of the temple farm will be decided at the next meeting of the Devaswom Board
Vegetables like ladies finger, cow-pea, brinjal, chilly, ash gourd, pumpkin etc will be cultivated in the first phase