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Project to make vegetables cheaper bearing fruits

Subhash Chandra N S, Bangalore, Feb 24, 2013, DHNS : 0:59 IST

It aims to increase vegetable production around cities

Lucrative: Chethan Reddy in his polyhouse (R) Capsicum cultivated in green house. DH Photos
Srinivas Reddy and H Manjunath of Chokkasandra village, five kms from Electronics City, had planned to sell off their lands as they were unable to lead a decent living with their income from vegetable cultivation.

However, now things have taken a positive turn as the two farmers have started earning almost on a par with IT sector staffers in the adjoining Electronics City.

Thanks to the Vegetable Initiation in Urban Clusters (VIUC) project, jointly implemented by the State and Union governments, which has helped them increase productivity manifold by adopting best farming practices.

Chethan Reddy, an MSc in Civil and Structural Sciences from London University, quit his lucrative job and took to vegetable cultivation under the same project. Now, he earns a minimum profit of Rs 38,000 a week by selling around 900 kgs of vegetables.

Ever increasing transport costs are leading to skyrocketing vegetable price and there by affecting the livelihood of people living in cities after farmers around the cities gave up cultivation due to fast depleting water table and the urban sprawl taking over agriculture lands.

To ensure that the urban population gets vegetables at a reasonable price, the department of Horticulture with the assistance from the Centre has initiated the VIUC.

Dr K Ramakrishnappa, Additional Director of Horticulture said the project was launched in 2011-12 under Rashtriya Krishi Vikasa Yojana and has been implemented in the feeders zones adjoining cities with 10-lakh plus population.

The project aims at encouraging farmers to grow high yielding vegetables using best practices. At least a dozen poly houses and shade nets have now been installed in Chokkasandra and Harohalli villages and eight farmers have been benefitted.

“We provide subsidy to procure seeds and construct green houses. Last year, we started with 48 clusters in Bangalore Rural, Ramanagara, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts. About 50 to 100 farmers are in each cluster and cultivation is taken up on 50 to 100 acres in each cluster,” he said.

Yield of vegetables will be higher under controlled condition than in the open field cultivation. Subsidy is given to set up green houses spread across an acre. A polyhouse for one acre costs Rs 30 lakhs.

If farmers want to go for bigger polyhouses, they have to get it done on their own. We train farmers in cultivation, water management and post harvest technology. We also provide them market links,” explained Ramakrishnappa.

Harohalli- Chokkasandra cluster, a pilot project, is showing positive changes. Having registered as Harohalli-Chokkasandra Tharakari Belegarara Kshemabhivruddhi Sangha under the Societies Act, 1960, the member-farmers decide on the vegetable to cultivate and how to market it.

The farmers, who have taken up poly house construction, have started growing capsicum.

“Vegetables are cultivated organically. We use vermi compost and bio pesticide unless they are infected with viral disease,” said Chethan.

Besides capsicum, farmers grow exotic vegetables such as red and green lettuce, rocket lettuce, broccoli, parsley, coloured cabbage, English cucumber, spinach and cherry tomato.

The Horticulture department also creates a revolving funds of Rs two lakhs, which will be utilised for the benefit of the Society. To ensure transparency, funds will be deposited jointly in the name of the Society and taluk horticulture officer. The department also gives subsidy to firms or retail outlets which wants to buy vegetables from these clusters.

“If any firm comes forward to buy the produce, we even provide it subsidy to buy vehicles for transport,” said Ramakrishappa.

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