Thursday, October 11, 2012

‘Try consuming little known veg / fruits grown in rural areas’

*   Ronald Anil Fernandes, (DH)

            There are at least 10,000 species of edible food (fruits / vegetables) available, but human beings are depending on only wellknown fruits and vegetables, opined A P Chandrashekar, a progressive farmer and author of many books on agriculture from Mysore.

             He was addressing a gathering at a unique programme “Varshavidi Tharakaari” (Vegetables round the year), a day long interaction with farmers and villagers to create an awareness about vegetable cultivation (preferably in an organic way) round the year, jointly organised by Hopcoms (Dakshina Kannada and Udupi), Horticulture department (DK ZP), Varanashi Jackfruit Growers’ Association (Adyanadka) and Halasu Snehi Koota (Jackfruit Friends’ Forum), at progressive farmer Shankarnarayan Bhat’s home in Punacha village, about 17 kms from Vittal and 50 kms from Mangalore.

              Stressing the need to explore the possibility of consuming lesser known fruits (especially wild) and vegetables in the day-to-day menu at home, he said the lesser known, little known or unknown food would be popular in a few years once people start using them.
              “There is a huge demand for apples, even though it is priced at Rs 150 per kg, just because people go for it,” he said and added that if people prefer jackfruit, mangoes and guava or any other locally grown fruits, then the demand for apple would reduce and the demand for locally available fruits would automatically go up.

                Similarly, if anytime available vegetables like banana shoot, banana stem, spinach, brahmi leaves, kokum rasam is used in day-to-day menu at home, the consumers can not only manage the needs with low budget (at a time when vegetable prices are skyroketing), but can also get the required quantity of nutrition.

                 To a query, he said the insects destroy food, because the human beings have destroyed the food of insects!

‘One man market’
              One of the speakers, Lancy Crasta, a farmer from Taccode near Moodbidri opined that it is very difficult to practice organic farming, if he/she does not rear a cow at home.

                Stating that everybody at his home including his 72-year-old father, mother, wife and children work in their farm, Crasta said that they spend a good two hours in their farm and they never find need for other labourers.

                Quite interestingly, Crasta sells vegetables to about 60 houses door-to-door in Taccode and finds it difficult to meet the demand of the people. The produce grown by him including ladies finger, gherkin, ivy gourd, bottle gourd, cowpea, spinach and amaranthus among other vegetables have a very high demand, he said.

                Progressive farmer Padaru Ramakrishna Shashtry who moderated a session on “Pesticide-free vegetables,” said that one need to market vegetables intelligently. “If you sell vegetables / fruits during festival season, you will get good price. On the other hand, the price will be drop during non-festival seasons,” he said.

                   C R Shivkumar, a civil engineer by profession said that he along with his partner A R Kishore, a lawyer by profession, have been cultivating a number of varieties of fruits including mango, papaya, banana, chikoo and vegetables like beans, brinjals, tomatoes, tapioca in his 18-acre land in Periyapatna and 6.5 acre land in Madikeri. He carries about 200 kg of papaya and 200 kg of vegetables from Periyapatna to Madikeri in his jeep to sell on every Saturdays. “Sometimes, I end up selling the entire produce even before I reach Madikeri,” he said.

                   Shivkumar, who is interested in identification and conservation of wild fruits and wild vegetables, said that he is trying his hand in cultivating aerobic rice in dry land by maintaining wetness.

                   The day-long sessions also comprised a session on “Wild vegetables” by Shivakumar and Horticulture Department Assistant Director Sanjeev Naik. In another session, farmers Shirankallu Narayana Bhat, Varmudi Shivaprasad, Suresh Gowda Punacha, Girish Baincrod and Koosappa Poojary shared their experiences on growing vegetables round the year.

                   While Punacha GP President Pavithra presided over the inauguration, rainwater harvesting expert Shree Padre presided over the valedictory. Dr Varanasi Krishnamurthy of Varanasi Research Foundation delivered the valedictory address.

                   A newsletter of Halasu Snehi Koota compiled by Na Karantha Peraje was released on the occasion.

                  Earlier in the day, Muliya Venkatakrishna Sharma in his welcome address explained the aim and objective of the unique programme and the efforts of Shankarnarayan Bhat, in whose house the programme was held.

                  Many prominent farmers in the region including All India Areca Growers’ Association President Manchi Srinivasa Achar, D K Chowta, Campco former directors Rangamurthy and Ashok Kumar among others were present.
(Deccan Herald/7-10-2012/page 2/mangalore)


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