THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The bounty of snake gourds on the Legislative Assembly complex, with their lovely vines and palmate leaves, would have made a pretty Christmas postcard. However, it was August, time for ‘Chingakkoythu’, a harvesting programme intended to spread a message on organic farming.
For the first time ever, the vegetables grown here will be sold among Assembly staff at Rs 10 per kilogram. Speaker N Sakthan, after plucking the snake gourd, said that the Legislative Assembly wants to lead by example. “ If vegetables can be grown organically here, it can be grown so anywhere. We can grow the vegetables we want, all by ourselves,” he said.
According to Assistant Agriculture Officer C V Jayadas, for an organically grown crop, the yield is quite high. “We must have received at least 300 kilograms of snake gourds on three cents of land,” he said.
Two of the Assembly’s gardening staff took care of the snake gourds. The work was supervised by K Ramachandran, a farmer from Peyad, who has earlier won awards for growing cassava which weighed around 100 kilograms. He received the first snake gourd which was plucked by the Speaker.
The variety of snake gourd grown is Kaumudi. Pheromone traps have been used to keep away fruit flies. Biocontrol agents like Pseudomonas, Trichoderma, PGPR Mix-I and PGPR Mix-II, which have been found to aid the yield, were used. Thirty-five NSS members from Cotton Hill Government Girls’ Higher Secondary School were present at the harvesting function.
The Speaker also inaugurated Haritha Club, formed to encourage agriculture among Assembly staff. Around 350 kits consisting of seeds, saplings and booklets were distributed. Assembly Secretary P D Sharangadharan received the first kit.