National Vegetable of Kerala, Kerala is a consumer state as far as vegetables are concerned. The major share of the fresh vegetable supply for the state comes from neighboring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The availability of fresh vegetables in states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Tamil Nadu can be attributed to the presence of good quality soil and the availability of hydropower facilities.
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Maharashtra came into prominence when it entered the international scene by being a major producer of mangoes, which later became an integral part of its cuisine. Bangalore, once a small town in Karnataka State with less than 10,000 people in 2001, grew rapidly as its industries turned out to be collectively called ‘Nipa’ (now known as ‘Colombo’), which is a type of palm tree that grows tall and produce very large fruit. Bangalore was in fact dubbed as ‘Mumbai for palms’ because it is located near the sea and produces large quantities of the palm fruit.
The economy of Kerala is based on agriculture. Plowing, cultivation, and harvesting are done by farmers by manual labor throughout their day-to-day usage.
The agricultural sector is largely employed by government departments such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute for Tropical Management (IITTM), and the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IHSS). Other sectors that contribute to the economy include tourism, retail trade, and the manufacturing industry with Keralites working in these sectors usually earning higher salaries than other parts of India due to their proximity to different parts of India such as Chennai or Mumbai.
The main water source used by Keralites is groundwater which they have traditionally considered to be their own source. They also use rainwater but have not yet adopted modern ways of using water management methods to deal with groundwater issues such as groundwater depletion or pollution because they believe that it will eventually return them to their traditional ways and beliefs about water sources being sacred and holy.
Kerala has nine districts namely Alappuzha, Angamaly, Erattupetta, Ernakulam , Idukki , Idukki Hills , Kasaragod , Kannur , Kumarakom & Wayanad . This list includes all these districts except for Wayanad. The total area covered is 4475 sq km.
The largest city in Kerala is Kochi. It has a population of around 8 million people. Other cities are Kozhikode, Kannur, Cochin.
What is The National Vegetable of Kerala?
The National Vegetable of Kerala is Pumpkin or in Malayalam called “mattaṅṅa” and in Hindi it is called “Kaddu”. Pumpkin is also the National Vegetable of India.
A brief History of Vegetables in Kerala
Perhaps one of the most effective ways to introduce a new vegetable to a family is by telling tales of the miraculous ability of its magic to cure all ailments. This magic is born out of the fact that many varieties of vegetables are an integral part of Kerala’s diet.
The earliest record for edible vegetables in Kerala dates back to around the 7th century AD and was known as “Ayaparanga”. The word “Ayaparanga” means “green leaves” and refers to a type of edible plant known as Ajobihari or Ajubihari (Kannada) or Panni, which literally means leafy branches.
The discovery and cultivation of this botanical variety led to a massive boost in food production, thus helping in increasing milk production, which helped in supplying milk for the country’s ever-increasing population.
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In today’s world, there are many varieties of Ayaparanga crops, comprising only grown in Kerala such as Achara Bamboo, Ayalum (Kottu), Arapana (gourd), Asanamkadu (green chili), Kottu Nellamma (Ginger), Namakkumbukalum (Snake gourd).
But just like any other crop, every variety has its own unique characteristics and puts it at a distinct height when it comes to differentiating itself from other vegetable varieties. For example, while Panni is rich in Vitamin A and contains good levels of Potassium and Calcium, Kannadigas prefer Achara Bamboo.
While Panni grows on dry land, Kannadigas prefer Kottu Nellamma. Even though Achara Bamboo grows well under rainwater, Kannadigas prefer Kottu Nellamma. It has been observed that people who eat Achara Bamboo have fewer chances for kidney stones and can tolerate higher levels of acidity than people who consume Kottu Nellamma.
This can be attributed to the presence of two compounds namely beta-carotene and Vitamin C present in Achara Bamboo which help prevent kidney stones formation while they contain fewer calories than their counterparts.
Factors responsible for the large-scale production of Vegetables in Kerala
Kerala is the country with the highest production of vegetables in India. It is home to 7 percent of the country’s total vegetable production and is also the largest producer of onions, pakoras, potatoes, chickpeas, and a variety of other vegetables.
The state produces more than half the country’s tomato crop and almost 80 percent of its onion crop.
The consumer surplus generated from such large-scale production is one of the reasons for its popularity as a tourist destination.
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The state’s perennial high-quality vegetables are grown in fertile mountain lands and are cultivated in such a way that they do not require irrigation. Vegetables thrive in such areas because they have access to rich soil without much water requirements.
This is why tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables found in Kerala thrive so well despite their hot climate: They are grown on land that does not require irrigation for years at a stretch.
In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift towards growing vegetables where farmers cultivate them on land that requires little or no irrigation during the sowing season. This change has led to higher yields even when compared to earlier times when farmers had to rely on irrigation or alternate methods like drip horticulture during the sowing season.
A study on how farm productivity varies among regions revealed that farm productivity was highest around two hours before sunrise due to morning dewdrop; second highest when it came about mid-morning due to cloud cover; third highest just afternoon; then fourth highest during the afternoon due to sun drying up at the later time; fifth-highest in the evening due to cloud cover; sixth-highest after sunset due to cloud cover (this productivity was considered low because crops have been seeded well before sunset).
The Horticulture sector of Kerala
Kerala is a state in South India, located on the Indian peninsula. The state is commonly known as Keralam (Kerala) or Kerala. The state capital is Thiruvananthapuram and the largest city is Kozhikode. Some other important cities are Alappuzha, Annur, Changanassery, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Kollam, Kottayam, and Thiruvananthapuram.
Kerala was bifurcated from Tamil Nadu and Madras in 1912 to come under the administrative control of the Madras Presidency.
The state has a coastline on the southeast coast of India along with the Andaman Sea to the northeast and the Arabian Sea to the southeast.
Its land area with 128.223 km2 consists of two distinct regions – Deccan Plateau in the eastern region and the Western Ghats in the western region – i.e., 2% of the country’s land area and 30% of its population lies in these two regions
It is one of the most fertile regions of India because its topography is hilly enough to provide irrigation water which causes rainfall which irrigates crops through air-dried methods which also results in an ideal climate for agricultural production as well as easy availability of electricity that enables industries to flourish
The state’s major cities are Kozhikode (capital), Kochi, Calicut, Mangalore, Idukki, Trichur, Kannur (Cochin), Palakkad, Quilon, and Varkala. The coastal areas have ports like Mangalapatnam (Mangalapatnam) on the northwest coast and Quilon on the southwest coast.
The state has an area exceeding 2 million sq km out of a total land area of 3 million sq km making it one of the 4 countries with more than 1 million square km land area
The Konkan region extends westwards from the east coast to the Lakshadweep islands; while the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border runs northwest from Srivilliputhur near Chennai towards Tirunelveli district. Its total length from north to south is from 3400 km along coasts to 3240 km inland including coastline but excluding Lakshadweep islands.
Kerala has a coastline measuring about 887 km on both sides of the Arabian Sea providing access for fishing boats carrying fish caught off Cochin beaches between 5045-57 m above sea level
Government Initiatives in promoting Vegetable farming in Kerala
Vegetables are a major food staple in Kerala. The state is also well known for its unique and unique varieties of edible plants.
The state produces large amounts of vegetables, fruits, and other edible produce such as mushrooms and cashew nuts.
The availability of high-quality produce is cultivated by government agencies including the Kerala State Co-operative and Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited (KSCM), Indian Farmers’ and Merchants’ Federation (IFM), and various commercial farmers’ associations.
The state also has a variety of vegetable farms owned by the private sector which are managed by both farmers and businessmen. These farms are mostly located along the Malabar Coast in Kannur district, Kozhikode district, Idukki district, Alappuzha district, Thrissur district, Palakkad district, Kollam city, Thrissur city, etc.
As per the official statistics issued by the agriculture department of Kerala, in 2014-15 the amount produced was 31 lakh tonnes out of which 7 lakh tonnes were total vegetables from gourds (chittar), 48 lakh tonnes from potato (chilikku), and 61 lakh tonnes from vegetables grown on about 1.4 million acres under various crops like mustard, onion, etc., out of which 2 lakh tonnes were potatoes grown on 25 lakh acres
Other exports like coconut oil, sesame oil & cooking oil are exported to countries like the USA, etc with high-profit margins while others like raw materials such as rubber/cotton, etc. are exported to India with low-profit margins.
To increase vegetable production in Kerala a number of initiatives have been taken during the last three decades. One such initiative is ‘Kerala – A breeding ground for fresh pickles & fresh sausages’. This initiative was planned by Government in 1996 under the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to increase vegetable production in Kerala.
The aim was to produce more number varieties at a lower cost per kg through genetic improvement technique through crossbreeding between indigenous varieties and commercial varieties with low yield potential all over the state through research work conducted mainly at institutes like Indian Agricultural Research Institute(IARI), Kolkata, Central Institute for Co-operative Management(CICM), CMI Rural Development Training Centre(CRDT), CMI Overseas Economic Development Centre(COEDC) at Mangaluru – Karnataka State University at Mysore, Central Institute for Agricultural Research (Central Institute) located at Puducherry under Department of Agriculture attached to IARI.
Vegetables are a staple of Kerala, as are soups and curries. There are many varieties of vegetables in the state. The road to success, however, is not an easy one.
You may be thinking that you know what’s good for you and don’t need to take the risk of trying out new vegetables, or that you have a trusted source who will sell you fresh produce from time to time.
But there are some vegetables that do require attention and care, particularly when it comes to picking them up from the market and storing them safely for long periods of time. It may seem like an impossible task but it isn’t.
You can learn how to select the right kind of vegetables from this article on Keralan Vegetables.