KOCHI: Thiruvaniyoor-based organic farmer Rajan Mampilly has brought a pale green fruit just as big as a medium-sized papaya to the organic fair underway at Rajendra Maidan and was quick to catch the attention of the public. The fruit, known as ‘Akashavellary’ (giant granadilla) belongs to the family of passion fruit and is the biggest of the kind, said Rajan, an active member of Ernakulam District Jaiva Karshaka Samithi.
“I have all kinds of vegetables at my farm in Thiruvaniyoor. But I brought only this fruit to the fair to popularise it,” he explained. You can also buy the vines of the fruit for planting purposes at `20.
A fruit of South American origin, the giant granadilla has a curly pumpkin-like vine and can be grown easily, the farmer said. One fruit would weigh 1 kilogram and it can be consumed cooked or uncooked in both unripe and ripened form. The Jaiva Karshaka Samithi also has seeds, vegetables, banana and organic red rice varieties on display.
Rice Varieties Galore
A local variety of ash gourd, perfectly round and weighing 18.5 kg, is what strikes visitors at the stall of Natural Farming Group, an initiative of young farming enthusiasts from Chittoor, Palakkad. But their mainstay is rice - grown in a completely organic way.
‘’We grow local varieties (kodukanni, kattamodan, ponnaryan, njavara and rakthasali rice varieties) on 20 acres of leased land at Palakkad,’’ said Ranju, one of the four young farmers who quit his job in pharmaceutical sector three years ago to venture into organic cultivation. Apart from rice, vegetables, ginger and turmeric are also cultivated at the farm.
In Palakkad, the Natural Farming Group offers door delivery of their produce and value-added products like snacks, seasonal pickles, fruits and vegetables. Kodukanni rice is sold at `90 per kg and the njavara, which is known for its medicinal properties, would cost `300 per kg.
Maheswari Sudharman, a woman entrepreneur from Engadiyoor here, who sells Fertifish, an organic fertilizer made from fish waste, presents a sustainable model of waste-to-manure. “Tonnes of fish waste is thrown into the sea every day at Munambam harbour after sorting and processing. I started collecting the waste of squid and oil sardine from the harbour seven years ago and made this manure using technology developed by CIFT. The manure is very effective and just 15 grams is enough for a plant,” she said.
From 1,000 kg fish waste, 225 kg of dry manure can be produced and if this technology was used, the fish waste dumped into the sea could be effectively utilized to boost vegetable production in the state, said Maheswari.
Help for Farming
If a visit to the organic fair prompts you to set up an organic farm on your terrace, here is Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) to help you out. The KVK has formed a task force to help you set up a farm on your rooftop or in your flat. “If you have space for 25 grow bags, we provide all help to set up a vegetable garden at `100 per bag,” said Haseena from Edavanakkad, Vypin, who is part of the KVK task force. It relieves you from finding the medium - soil or pith, seedlings, manure and grow bags. “Within few months after launching the scheme, we are getting a good response, from the city residents,” she informed.