Onam is here: A grand organic feast awaits Mahabali on his annual homecoming!

Image courtesy: Venu Muruvelil

When Mahabali pays his annual ritualistic visit to Kerala, his erstwhile kingdom, to partake in the sumptuous Ona Sadya with his one-time subjects, he won’t encounter any health hazards posed by the poisonous vegetables and fruits that Keralites normally consume.

Organic farming, that has become a rage in Kerala of late, will ensure Mahabali’s safe passage back to the `underworld’, where he was condemned to live by Vamana, the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Image courtesy: www.youtube.com
Image courtesy: www.youtube.com

Kerala is witnessing an organic farming revolution, thanks to the sincere efforts taken by the Government, civic bodies, voluntary organizations and even some political parties. This is the result of growing awareness among the public about the potential risks posed by vegetables and fruits imported mainly from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, that are unsafe for consumption due to high chemical content.

Such vegetables are cultivated using poisonous fertilizers and pesticides extensively. Highly toxic substances are used to ripen and preserve vegetables and fruits.

Courtesy: Venu Muruvelil

A recent box office hit, How Old Are You?, the come-back movie of popular Malayalam actor Manju Warrier, espoused the cause of food safety, by effectively depicting how the fruits and vegetables that Keralites consume daily are treated with poisonous chemicals in godowns. The hugely successful film gave a fillip to the campaign for organic food cultivation in the state.

The campaign has now assumed the shape of a mass movement. People who had almost given up farming have now come back to grow vegetables in their backyard or terrace and a large number of families are now relying fully on homegrown vegetables.

Civic bodies such as the Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA), cooperative banks, etc are growing vegetables and fruits on the backyard of their offices to cater to the Onam demand. Voluntary organisations like Kudumbasree, Kerala Karshaka Sangham etc have undertaken organic farming in a big way. Film stars like Mammootty and Sreenivasan too are contributing their might to the campaign by taking up organic farming.

Courtesy: Venu Muruvelil

Even a political party like the CP(M), has taken the initiative to undertake organic farming. The party plans to open about 300 outlets in the state this Onam for supplying organic vegetables cultivated by its cadres.

Not to be left out, the Congress party too has joined the organic bandwagon. The party launched roof-top organic vegetable farming at Indira Bhavan,the KPCC headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram, the other day. KPCC President V M Sudheeran has issued directives to 21,458 booths of the Congress spread across the state, to select a house each, under their jurisdiction and promote organic vegetable farming.

As Onam approaches, organic vegetables are being sold even through petrol pumps across the state. To cash in on the organic trend, some textile firms like Co-optex have come out with `organic saris'(treated with chemical-free natural/vegetable dyes) and in no time it has caught the fancy of fashion-conscious Malayalee women.

“Kerala is now meeting over 70% of its demand for vegetables on its own compared with just 20% a few years ago. The share of homegrown vegetables will further increase gradually because large tracts of land are getting converted for organic cultivation,” says Kerala Agriculture Minister KP Mohanan.

Kasargode leads other districts of Kerala in organic farming and the Government is likely to declare the district as fully organic this year.

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