KOCHI: The Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Kerala (VFPCK) is planning to bolster its activities by adopting latest technologies and launching new products through exclusive outlets. For starters, a hi-tech plug nursery will soon begin operations at Nadukkara in Muvattupuzha.The plug nursery - one of the largest in India - will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on December 16, said Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar.
“Farmers are facing issues due to the shortage of seeds and saplings of vegetables and foodgrain. For this, we are starting the plug nursery, which will function with state-of-the-art technology. It is set up on 4.09 acres. It has been set up with `11.35 crore provided by the Union ministry of agriculture,” he said.
The nursery will have four polyhouses, space for planting seeds, fertigation unit and an office complex. It is capable of producing 2 crore saplings per month. Within 25-40 days, the saplings can be provided to farmers. The entire units and distribution would be held under the VFPCK.
The government will launch an agri supermarket in Thrissur of December 16. The supermarket will be unique as agri products, agro equipment along with products of agencies such as VFPCK, Plantation Corporation and Spices Board would be available there. Apart from this, products from states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Punjab would also be available. The government plans to set up such agri supermarkets in all districts by next year.
The VFPCK has decided to sell vegetables and fruits under a new brand called Thalir. The VFPCK will directly procure vegetables and fruits from farmers and sell it through exclusive outlets. The first outlet will come up in Kottarakara, which would be inaugurated on December 19. “Providing the right price for farmers is the main motive behind Thalir,” Kumar said.
The VFPCK has completed the work of a packing house in Wayanad. The unit will pack vegetables and fruits as per export standards. This will enable the VFPCK to export agri products in the near future. The packing house will have a refrigeration facility with a capacity of 10 metric tonnes. A similar unit is under construction in Thrissur.
Another promising project is to bring out cut vegetables. The vegetables would be procured, cleaned and processed in such a way that it can be used directly for cooking. Cut vegetables are already on sale in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Pathanamthitta districts.The VFPCK will also start a banana drying unit at Parathode in Kottayam district. Bananas procured from farmers would be cut and dried so that they can be used for byproducts. Similarly, soil testing centres to improve farm yields and agri business centres to market agro products are also under the government’s consideration.