Kerala Panchayat Department has issued guidelines for local bodies to take up organic farming and production of pesticide-free vegetables under its Annual Plan.
The local bodies have been directed to promote sustainable farming under the Subhiksha Keralam scheme through collectives involving Krishi Bhavans, agricultural research institutions, farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and other agricultural agencies with sufficient outlay in the plan programmes. The projects are to be formulated with the objective of achieving self-sufficiency in agricultural production.
Subhiksha Keralam is a comprehensive programme to boost food production under the local self-government mechanism. It envisages to bring an additional 25,000 hectares under farming in the State, converging the activities under various departments such as Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Horticulture and Fisheries.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has earmarked ₹2,500 crore for the project, which aims at Kerala attaining self-reliance in food production within the next five years.
Indira Devi, former Director of Research, Kerala Agricultural University, said that the Agriculture Department has been implementing a host of programmes to boost safe food production in the State to ensure food security. These interventions are reflected as improved accerage in food grains and higher output in vegetables.
The State’s vegetable output has risen to more than 12 lakh tonnes (2019) as against 6.5 lakh tonnes in 2016. The focus is to ensure production of vegetables which are safe to eat, following green technologies. The department has also launched a massive production programme (Jeevani) linking fruits and vegetable production to health.
The programme is aimed at supporting commercial subsistence farming, mainly promoting eco-friendly technologies. The local self-government departments are given directives to allocate funds for the promotion of organic farming, making use of all available cultivable space such as homesteads, buildings, institutions and public spaces, she said.