Thiruvananthapuram: As part of massive COVID-19 mitigation efforts in agriculture to make the state self sufficient, the Kerala government on Wednesday announced that all wastelands would be used for farming.
Kerala is a consumer state which depends on other states for food grains, fruits and vegetables.
On Wednesday, Earth Day, Chief Minister Pinaryi Vijayan and his family led the state in this venture by planting tapioca at his official residence.
The Chief Minister stressed the need and importance of Kerala being self-sufficient in foodgrains, "so as to be prepared for any eventuality."
He said the agriculture department and Local Self Government bodies would join hands to improve self-reliance and explore all possible ways to improve vegetable cultivation, using kitchen gardens, rooftop cultivation and community projects.
"The wastelands in the state will be utilised for farming.
If it is a private property, the LSGs can use it for farming but the ownership of the property will remain with the owner.
We need to ensure that no land will lie unused in the state," Vijayan said.
The Chief Minister said the state now has enough food stocks and was in a comfortable position. However if the current circumstances due to the pandemic outbreak continued for long, the government would have to start preparing for the future and need big interventions in the agriculture sector,
He said though there is smooth movement of food trucks, the food security of Kerala in future depends on how the disease affects the rest of the country, from where food is brought in.
"We should be able to increase production for our own consumption and reduce dependency on other states. We should be prepared to face any shortage or scarcity of food, the Chief Minister said.
He said the state needs to adopt modern farming techniques and practices to have maximum produce from the minimum area by adopting them for regional needs.
"We need to increase rice cultivation to over 25,000 hectares in the next two years. Cultivation of cereals, tuber crops, tapioca and plantain/banana should be increased to a larger area," Vijayan said.
Kerala requires 20 lakh tonnes of vegetables every year and this years production is 14.72 lakh tonnes.
The Chief Minister exhorted the youth to come forward and take up agriculture in a large way as the state needs large scale interventions to increase the output of foodgrains, fruits and vegetables.