VELLORE: People become more conscious about their health and fitness particularly when there are natural threats. Of late, many have opted for having more greens in their menu as the green leaves help keep the body in a better state. In order to cater to the needs of the people of Chennai city, several villages in the Vellore region have been growing green leaves round the year.
Puthur and Karanampat in Katpadi block in Vellore district are known for the predominant cultivation of green leaves which are ferried every to the Koyambedu market in Chennai.
“The farmers in Puthur and Karanampat are regularly cultivating greens. They find good returns in the green leaves sold to traders of Koyambedu,” says BR Nithiyah, assistant director of Horticulture (ADH), Katpadi block.
“The horticulture department is encouraging the farmers to take up green cultivation in large numbers under the ‘collective farming’ scheme,” she notes.
A farmers producers group (FPG) with 100 members has been formed in Puthur village for promoting green cultivation. “We have been cultivating greens from the days of my grandfather. Now, I am cultivating them on 12 acres. It has been our farming practice for long,” says 34-year-old farmer N Sureshkumar, of Lakshmipuram village.
He adds, “We opt for growing greens only because they require a lesser quantity of water.”
About 300 tons of greens are being ferried from Katpadi villages every day to the Koyambedu market. More than 300 farmers are raising the leaves to feed the Chenaiites, Nithiyah says.
The types of greens are: Sirukeerai, Araikeerai, Mulaikeerai, Palak, Manathakkali, Vasalai, Paruppukeerai, Venthayakeerai, Pulichakeerai, Mudakkathan and Ponnanganni.
Farmers in nearby KV Kuppam block raise green leaves in about 60 hectares.
Walaja block in neighbouring Ranipet district is another major greens producing hub.
According to R Kiruthikadevi, ADH, Walaja, “Greens are cultivated in an area ranging from 50 hectares to 60 hectares in Walaja block. The produce is transported to Koyambedu.”
A single village, Echanthangal, produces the green leaves in about 20 hectares, she notes.
Although greens bring better returns, for some farmers it is not profitable. “I reduced the area of cultivation to 2 acres now. Sometimes I am not able to sell the greens for better prices,” laments V Balaraman of Puthur village.
Cultivation of greens does have some risks as nature’s fury will spell doom.
“The tender leaves will not stand pounding rains. They will get damaged beyond repair,” he points out.