KOCHI: At a time when people are increasingly health conscious, the movement to promote traditional farming methods in an organic way is gathering momentum.
Drawing inspiration from the buzz, the collective effort of the villagers of Parakkadavu near Aluva has scripted a success story which could become a model for other local bodies. The residents of Parakkadavu were attracted to organic farming by the efforts put in by the Parakkadavu Service Cooperative Bank.
Various plans mooted by the bank to promote organic farming at Parakkadavu around four years back have started reaping rich dividends. For nearly 25 barren fields in the village have been converted into cultivable land from where various crops were harvested. There are more than 800 active members involved in various farming activities in the village, indicating the initiative's success.
The primary aim of the bank was to help Parakkadavu achieve self-sufficiency in 'poison-free' vegetables, paddy, fish, meat, egg and milk. The village is situated on the banks of the Chalakkudy river, which also enabled the bank officers to encourage more people to take up farming without having to worry about the availability of water. The soil here too was suitable for farming.
In 2014, the bank introduced the organic farming programme at Parakkadavu. Initially, it promoted farming through the supply of grow bags, and thereby encouraging people to go for terrace farming. The programme was a success and led to the formation of organic farming groups. With the help of the groups, the organic farming movement strengthened in Parakkadavu. Eventually, terrace farming started to spread across the barren lands and fields in the village.
"It's more like an organic revolution, we would say," said the bank officials.
The programme has now developed into a big agriculture chain with 48 farming groups and 800 members from 800 families in the village. In each farming group, there are five to ten members. The crops include various vegetables, banana, corn and paddy. Along with various crops, the farming groups are now actively involved in chicken breeding, duck breeding, hi-tech fish farming, polyhouse farming and floriculture.
While the bank provides organic pesticides, necessary seeds and saplings free of cost, its manure depot supplies organic manure. Attractive loan schemes, subsidies and Kisan Credit Cards are also supplied by the Parakkadavu Cooperative Bank.
This year, paddy cultivation was launched at the Kurumassery paddy field which had been lying barren for the past 25 years. Vegetables were harvested from nearly 12 acres of land at Odiyappadam at Kurumassery. Under the Puzhayoram farming group, fish farming is carried out at Poovathussery.
"Through the efforts of the bank, we were able to not only provide a source of revenue to the villagers but also develop an organic farming culture with the motto 'Poison free vegetables for the next generation'," said bank president M K Prakashan.
The harvest is sold to the local residents.
"We are also planning to launch a stall to sell the paddy cultivated at this year's harvest fest," he said.
The harvest fest at Thottangara fields was inaugurated by Agriculture Minister V S Sunil Kumar recently.