Sunday, 29 September 2013

Tamil Nadu Govt. Initiative

Dear Friends

There was a news item published in Times of India  dated 23-9-13, which is appended below:

The soaring price of vegetables has caused much heartburn, but people in the state may soon get their greens for free.

If the state government has its way, residents could soon be plucking fresh vegetables from their own rooftop gardens. As part of the plan to soften the blow of food inflation, the government will distribute do-it-yourself rooftop garden kits to residents.

Encouraged by a few individuals who have responded to rising prices by growing vegetables on their balconies, the government plans to introduce the scheme in Chennai and Coimbatore to begin with.

"The opportunity to beat rising prices by growing vegetables at home has led to people trying their luck with gardening. The government wants to chip in with support," a horticulture officer said. The horticulture department will roll out the scheme with support from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University.

People interested can apply online and the government will supply them with 20 UV stabilised 200 micron thickness polythene bags, 15kg of coir pith and manure, seeds for vegetables and greens, besides instruments, organic fertiliser and a 20sqm polythene sheet. It will make 20 bags available for each person at a subsidised price. Indian Overseas Bank offers loans to individuals for rooftop gardening.

Vegetables such as brinjals, tomatoes, chillies, cluster beans and amaranthus can be grown in the summer and spinach, radish, beetroot, snake gourd, bitter gourd, ribbed gourd and bush beans in the rainy and cooler months, said A Sadasakthi, professor, TNAU.

A brinjal plant yields an average of 5kg of the vegetable in six months, while two tomato plants yield up to 8kg. The government decided to use coir pith instead of red soil to minimise the weight of the plants.

Constraints of space may be a problem for many people in the city, but not for those who know how to use space effectively. "I found my tiny roof has lot of potential," says A M Malathi, who loves vegetables. The Medavakkam resident has been growing large quantities of pumpkin, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, snake gourd, ladies finger, cluster beans, brinjal, yam, and seasonal vegetables like beetroot and carrot.

She sometimes grows cauliflower, cabbage and capsicum. "I try dal once in a while too," she said.Vegetable gardens have the added advantage of making the house cooler. Exnora founder M B Nirmal said growing vegetables has other benefits as well. "It helps calm the mind and nurtures a love for nature," he said.

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