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A major project on vegetable development has been launched in 2012-13 to achieve self-sufficiency in vegetable production covering an integrated approach with physical targets at Panchayat level. The activities include promotion of homestead and terrace vegetable cultivation through urban clusters by supplying grow bags, commercial field cultivation of vegetables on cluster basis, vegetable seed production & distribution, supply of vegetable seedlings, promotion of institutional vegetable garden, promotion of rain shelter cultivation, support to Block Level Federated Organizations, promotion of micro irrigation with fertigation, productivity enhancement programmes, marketing and promotion of high tech farming. An amount of Rs.87.00 crores is set apart for vegetable development programme during 2018-19. Out of this an amount of Rs.80.00 crores is earmarked for the activities through Agriculture department.
An amount of Rs.700.00 lakhs is set apart for the promotion of vegetable cultivation through VFPCK in selected districts. Out of Rs.700.00 lakhs to VFPCK, an amount of Rs.400.00 lakhs is set apart for the promotion of vegetable cultivation and increasing production and productivity. Subsidy based cultivation of vegetables are not envisaged through VFPCK.
Out of Rs.850.00 lakhs earmarked for urban clusters Rs.75.00 lakhs is set apart for waste management in urban clusters linked to vegetable production in corporation areas and Rs.150.00 lakhs will be utilized for supporting clusters established earlier with seedlings and biocontrol agents. Grow bags produced through agro service centres and kudumbasree will also be supported. Urban vegetable cultivation will be institutionalized by the formation of Haritha groups. An amount of Rs.25.00 lakhs is set apart for Institutionalization of urban vegetable growers into registered „Haritha Groups‟ providing technical support and marketing through harithamitra facilities under Residence associations in corporation areas. Haritha fund will be provided to Haritha groups federated from Residence associations at ward level in corporation areas.
The clusters established will be further graded based on the performance covering group activities,increase in production and productivity, innovative activities, leadership, technology application and cluster dynamics. The best clusters will be graded as A grade clusters and special development support will be for those clusters covering support for establishing nurseries, collection centres, pre cooling centres, input centres and other need based project based support. Best performing A grade clusters with two years experience will be given additional assistance based on volume of business. A separate performance criteria for best performing A grade clusters will be developed for release of Rs.50.00 lakhs earmarked additionally. The cluster based development is the key component in the vegetable development initiative of the state. An amount of Rs.2050.00 lakhs is set apart for cluster development in districts and another Rs.1000.00 lakhs for the support of graded clusters. The maximum number of clusters will be limited to about 1000 numbers. Poor performing clusters will be delinked from support and new clusters will be formed. Transparent criteria will be developed for evaluating performance of clusters. The assistance will be limited to Rs.15000 per hectre. The 5 ha upper limit of clusters will be relaxed and eligible assistance will be given to the area cultivated by the clusters on a pro rata basis. Staggered clusters will also be supported at the above rates. Clusters of women, youth and students will be promoted giving priority. A portion of outlay under cluster development will be utilized for project based assistance of each cluster in potential areas.
The amount earmarked for cluster development in districts will also be utilized for production and distribution of seeds of traditional varieties and Rs.25.00 lakhs for promotion of nutritional garden for the supply of perennial vegetable seedling kits (bread fruit, muringa, curry leaves, agathy etc.). Specialised clusters will be entrusted for production and distribution of traditional varieties and nutritional garden. Services of agro service centres and karshika karma senas can be utilised for the establishment of nurseries and nutritional garden. Fallow land cultivation will be supported at cluster level.
On farm production of bio control agents, use of soil ameliorants, zero energy cool chambers will be promoted for ecofriendly farming and storage.
Out of total subsidy per hectare 25 percent is earmarked for the promotion of inputs for safe food production and for promoting good agricultural practices. Biocontrol agents, pheromone traps, area wide IPM and bio fertilizers will be included in the 25 percent earmarked amount of the subsidy component. Another minimum 15 percent will be insisted for lime application.
The support for Block Level Federated Organizations (BLFO) for infrastructure development and operational support including revolving fund for which an amount of Rs.200.00 lakhs is set apart. Training of BLFO functionaries on accounting, management and key areas of organization development, establishment of new federated organizations and to provide revolving fund will be covered. The entire responsibility of revolving fund will be entrusted to registered groups. The role of department officers is restricted to guidance alone in revolving fund. There should not be any duplication of Block level federated organisations of the department and markets established by VFPCK at ward level in panchayats. In potential panchayats both organisations could work together also. Good and well performing organizations will be given assistance for specific infrastructure support on project mode limited to a maximum of Rs.10.00 lakh per BLFO. It is preferable to support biopharmacy, ecoshop, on farm production of pseudomonas / trichoderma with the support of officers trained at National Institute of Plant Health Management (NIPHM) etc., as one time assistance.
It is proposed to establish vegetable producer companies at the major vegetable producing areas for the marketing of the vegetables produced by small, marginal and large farmers linking with A grade clusters and BLFOs for which an amount of Rs.500.00 lakhs is provided. Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) trained professionals will be engaged for the implementation of vegetable producer companies. BLFOs and clusters will be linked with the companies with appropriate organizational participation.
Nurseries will be established in identified blocks through clusters. Revolving fund for the existing nurseries and support for new nurseries are included in the outlay. An amount of Rs.200.00 lakhs is set apart for establishing small nurseries in grama panchayats/ corporation / selected municipalities for the production and distribution of seedlings. Mini poly house units developed by Kerala Agriculture University (KAU) with a size of 10 sq. m. and 20 sq. m. will be promoted for raising kitchen gardens. Trainings, evaluation, monitoring and documentation will also be included.
An amount of Rs.400.00 lakhs earmarked for micro irrigation with fertigation including family drip system. An amount of Rs.75.00 lakhs is set apart for the promotion of small value addition units linked to graded clusters with the support of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs).
Vegetable Development Programme to be additionally focused in Special Agricultural Zones of Vattavada–Kanthalloor, Eastern Palakkad, Kanjikkuzhi, Cherthala, Pazhayannur and adjoining areas.
For operational expenses Rs.80.00 lakh is earmarked. Part of the fund to be used for organizing campaigns.
It is proposed to constitute a State Vegetable Board under the chairmanship of Agricultural Production Commissioner to co-ordinate the activities of the department and allied agencies such as Kerala Agricultural University, Vegetable & Fruit Promotion Council (VFPCK), State Horticulture Mission (SHM), PSUs and other agencies involved in vegetable production to materialize comprehensive vegetable development and achieve self-sufficiency in the state. Vegetable cultivation will be extended to fallow lands available under the ownership of department farms and PSUs also by involving farmers clusters and women groups.
The food crop production scheme will be linked to Haritha Keralam and clearly defined physical targets at panchayat level and other deliverables will be fixed in the project. Department of Agriculture will organize campaigns at block level and at panchayat level for Rice Development Programme and Vegetable Development Programme with the support of farmers groups and panchayats.