In a unique initiative, several villages in Vellore have been growing green leaves round the year to cater to the needs of the people of Chennai city.
In Puthur and Karanampat in Katpadi block in Vellore district, green leaves are predominantly cultivated. These are ferried 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,” The New Indian Express quoted BR Nithiyah, assistant director of Horticulture (ADH), Katpadi block, as saying.
“The horticulture department is encouraging the farmers to take up green cultivation in large numbers under the ‘collective farming’ scheme,” she added.
To promote green cultivation, a farmers producers group (FPG) with 100 members has been formed in Puthur village.
“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,” said 34-year-old farmer N Sureshkumar, of Lakshmipuram village.
“We opt for growing greens only because they require a lesser quantity of water,” he added.
While 300 tons of greens are being ferried to the Koyambedu market from Katpadi villages every day, over 300 farmers are raising the leaves to feed the Chenaiites.
The types of green include Sirukeerai, Araikeerai, Mulaikeerai, Palak, Manathakkali, Vasalai, Paruppukeerai, Venthayakeerai, Pulichakeerai, Mudakkathan and Ponnanganni.
In the nearby KV Kuppam block, farmers raise green leaves in about 60 hectares. Another major greens-producing hub is Walaja block in neighbouring Ranipet district.
“Greens are cultivated in an area ranging from 50 hectares to 60 hectares in Walaja block. The produce is transported to Koyambedu,” said R Kiruthikadevi, ADH, Walaja. She added that a single village, Echanthangal, produces the green leaves in about 20 hectares.
Greens do bring better returns, however, it is not always profitable for farmers.
“I reduced the area of cultivation to 2 acres now. Sometimes I am not able to sell the greens for better prices,” said V Balaraman of Puthur village.
“The tender leaves will not stand pounding rains. They will get damaged beyond repair,” he points out.
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