THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To ensure production and distribution of pesticide-free vegetables, Planning and Economic Affairs Department - Hill Area Development Agency - has renewed the guidelines for fruits and vegetables development project.
The project, for which Rs 11 crore was set aside in the 2012-13 budget, aims to produce vegetables and fruits through integrated use of manure and integrated pest management.
The objective is to coordinate the production, distribution and marketing of fruits and vegetables at block level.
The project is being implemented at 42 selected block panchayats in the state considering each block as one unit. “A monitoring committee will decide in which panchayat under the block that the project should be implemented considering the possibility of cultivation in the panchayat,’’ the renewed guidelines say.
The committee will also decide the beneficiaries of the scheme. The project should be implemented through self help groups or vegetable clusters who are interested in farming. A vegetable nursery should be set up in each block under the groups or clusters.
The financial assistance will be for setting up 42 nurseries in 42 block panchayats. The saplings of keeper crops like drumstick and curry-leaf should be distributed free of cost to the farmers. The saplings of mango tree and other fruit trees should be distributed to the farmers with 50 per cent subsidy.
These saplings should be purchased from Agricultural University, farms of Agriculture Department and Vegetable and Fruits Promotion Council (VFPCK).
The selected blocks should prepare a project incorporating the above guidelines for approval.
In the long term, the nurseries should attain financial independence to carry out farming. Markets should be set up at the block-level for selling the produce as only a few products are being sold through the selling points of VFPCK.