KOCHI: Turning an ambitious plan put forth by the district administration into reality, Vadakkekkara is on the way to becoming the first barren land-free panchayat in Ernakulam. Within three years, the civic body has turned 125 acres of land into agriculture cultivation.
Being a coastal panchayat which was devastated during the 2018 floods, Vadakkekkara took a Herculean task of obtaining maximum results through upland paddy cultivation.
“It was a collective effort of different agencies and organisations. We mainly produced paddy and vegetables throughout the project. Panchayat received the financial and technical support from Haritha Keralam Mission, cooperative banks and MGNREGA programme,” said K M Ambrose, president, Vadakkekkara panchayat.
The panchayat has followed a decentralised approach while implementing the mission. Along with the 51-member coordination committee, separate ward-level committees were also set up to monitor the project. It is the ward committees which surveyed the barren lands.
“We found 125 acres of land spanning across 20 wards. The panchayat committee finalised the agricultural products to be cultivated based on the results of the soil test. The seeds were distributed to the families for free. Once we converted the entire land into farming, we set up a stall at the panchayat office to sell the products,” he said.
During the lockdown, a total of 9,514 households have created their own kitchen garden farms under the initiative. With the support of Krishi Bhavan, 80,000 saplings were distributed to the families.
“Considering the enthusiasm of families and youngsters, we increased the plan fund assigned for agriculture from `15 lakh to `44 lakh. With the support from Subhiksha Keralam project, we have started promoting terrace gardens and long-term farming plans. We will also set up special outlets at different parts of the panchayat to sell the farm products during Onam,” he said.