Kerala's 'green army' to promote organic farm practices
In an initiative to promote organic farm practices on grassroot level, CPI(M) in Kerala has embarked on a programme roping in the labour force for cultivating pesticide free vegetables and fruits across the state. The party claims that such creative ventures will bring them political dividends at a time when they are fighting to maintain its relevance in a fast-changing political landscape, particularly in Kerala. Ernakulam district committee of CPI(M), headed by former Rajya Sabha MP P Rajeeve, is one such unit of the party in the state which has unleashed an “organic revolution”, channelising the energy of its thousands of red volunteers into pesticide free farm practices.
Talking to PTI, Rajeev narrated the steps taken by CPI(M) to create an awareness among people on the health benefits of organic vegetables and the consequences of consuming pesticide content vegetables coming from neighbouring states. He said the party, through the cooperative societies controlled by it, is in the process of organising ‘Self Help Groups’ (SHGs) of organic farmers. “Such SHGs get interest free loans from the cooperative societies. It is the duty of the societies to create a market for the products produced by the SHGs”, Rajeeve said. He said CPI(M) utilises its labour strength for organic farming converting them as “a green army” which is registered under the cooperative societies in villages.
“Under the cooperative societies, the SHGs and green army they make the village self-sufficient in organic vegetables”, he said. Rajeeve said the concept of Green Army, means army of the agricultural labourers, was developed by some cooperative societies controlled by the party. “We have taken up the concept, nourished it and made proper changes in the system. and we are trying to expand the system all over the state”. Members of green army are given basic training in organic farm cultivation through cooperative societies controlled by the CPI(M), the ex-MP said. Rajeeve said several cooperative societies in Ernakulam district have taken up the green initiative after the CPI(M) state committee in November called for a green revolution in the state.
“Our party is directly cultivating organic vegetables in hundreds of acres”, he said. Besides village level initiatives, the party is propagating the health benefits of having organic food among school and college students through its student outfits and teacher organisations, the CPI(M) leader said. Several residential associations in Kochi city and celebrities, including film stars, have also joined hands with the movement, Rajeeve said. “This is like a literacy movement. People’s movement for achieving self-sufficiency in pesticide-free vegetables. This is a very good start. Now we are trying to maintain this momentum. This is a very big initiative led by CPI(M)”, Rajeeve said.
“Led by CPI(M) doesn’t mean this is a CPI(M) activity. We have taken the initiative. People from different walks of life have expressed interest in it. They are joining hands with this movement”, he claimed. Rajeeve said the party expects political dividends from the initiative. There is politics. This politics is not the partisan politics, but against the existing profiteering concept in the field of horticulture. Poor farmers don’t get their dues in the existing system.
“It is middlemen who exploit them. They are trying to get more and more profit, persuading them to add pesticides in our food not considering the human being. The politics is against this concept of those who make profit through unethical business and this is not confined to any political party”, he said.
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