Higher demand for leaves than vegetables; More profit for farmers
The demand for leaves of vegetables has increased tremendously as the number of health conscious people is on the rise in Kerala. The trend of adding more leafy greens to the diet has given hopes to farmers as well. Numerous bundles of leaves are being sold every day at Puthoor bypass in Kottakkal in Malappuram district.
People from even far away places come to buy fresh leaves of vegetables. Leaves of pumpkin, bottle gourd and long beans have high demand in the market. One bundle that consists of 12 leaves costs Rs 20. Agriculture experts say that upto 40-50 leaves can be harvested if fertilisers like chicken droppings that contain nitrogen are used.
Farmers are of the opinion that cultivation of such plants has become more profitable as the demand for leaves rose. The leaves can be sold first and the vegetables are a bonus, said a farmer who supplies leaves at Kottakkal.
Assistant Director of Agriculture Prakash Puthammeethil said that the leaves are safer to consume as the local farmers usually do not apply pesticides on them. This is mentioned in the special food calendar prepared as part of the Jeevani scheme of the agriculture department. Awareness classes on the importance of leafy greens conducted by doctors and agriculture experts have also yielded positive results, he added.