KOCHI: If all had gone well and the floods hadn’t played spoilsport, the people of Ernakulam could have savoured a grand ‘sadya’ prepared using locally-grown vegetables. Heavy rain and waterlogging destroyed crops, resulting in a poor harvest. However, a few areas in Varapuzha managed to strike gold with marigold farming while those engaged in mushroom cultivation are singing all their way to the banks.
Vegetables to be sourced from Horticorp
Large tracts of land in the district had been under vegetable and plantain cultivation, eyeing the Onam market. “However, the heavy rain, strong wind and waterlogging destroyed crops in many places,” said Girija K G, field assistant, State Horticulture Mission.
“Farmers cultivating ‘nethran’ were the most affected. And it is the variety in demand during Onam season,” she said. “As of now, the farmers won’t be able to harvest enough to meet the Onam demand. In many areas, they have just replanted the fields,” she said. According to her, vegetables were cultivated in 1,825 hectares while loose flowers were grown in seven hectares. “Some of the farmers, engaged in the cultivation of certain crops, had been able to reap a good harvest,” she said. To tide over the shortage, vegetables will be sourced from the Horticorp, said an officer with the Agriculture Department.
Varapuzha farmers strike gold
Golden flowers nod their heads in the breeze bringing happiness to the farmers at Varapuzha. They have struck gold! According to Poli Thaliath, secretary, Krishimitra Farmers’ Society, five groups are engaged in the cultivation of marigold. “The plots range from 20 to half an acre,” he said. “Though the yield has been low due to adverse weather, our plants weren’t affected much. Cultivating flowers has been the right decision taken by us,” said Poli. According to him, the farmers get a good price during Onam and religious festivals. “It is very viable,” he added. “We can harvest at least 1 kg from a single plant and get around`150 to `200 per kg in retail. Wholesale dealers give only `100 per kg. We prefer selling retail,” he said. Varapuzha farmers grow African Marigold, the flowers of which are large and heavy with around 50 heads weighing one kilo.
The lowly fungi have made a place of their own in the vegetarian menu card. Today, the mushroom has become a key ingredient that peps up vegetarian dishes. According to Jasmine T K, field assistant, State Horticulture Mission, there has been an increase in the cultivation of the mushroom. “At present, there are around 90 units growing mushrooms in the district,” she said.
“Dishes made out of mushroom has found a place in Onam sadya,” she said.
According to Jithu Thomas, a mushroom farmer, the demand goes sky high during Onam season. “Our farm produces around 30 kg of oyster mushroom and every packet gets picked up even before it reaches the shelf,” he said. “A kilo of oyster mushroom fetches around `375 and is very popular during festivals, the lent and advent,” he said.