Thiruvananthapuram | With vibrant hues of orange and yellow and the fragrance of freshness in air, the sprawling marigold farms here are a breathtaking visual treat for visitors in Kattakada.
It's hard to believe that these were once barren lands.
Thanks to an ambitious project, the hamlets of Kattakada Assembly Constituency near the state capital here have gone from being a bare, desolate stretch to a vivid and inviting carpet of blooms.
As Onam is round the corner, the capital district may not have to depend on flowers from neighbouring Tamil Nadu or Karnataka anymore, as 60 acres of barren land in the constituency, located about 25 km away from here, has now been cultivated with marigold.
'Our Onam Our Flowers' was an innovative project launched by Kattakada MLA I B Satheesh and it has now been implemented successfully.
The sunshine-hued blossoms are now ready to be harvested and will be available till the end of the Onam season, the local people here said.
"I am so happy to see this. When we started to clear these five acres of land that was lying barren for several years and was just a shrub jungle, we were doubtful about the outcome. But now you can see the results," a woman farmer who was busy plucking the blooms at a farm located in Pallichal Panchayat, told PTI.
She is happier about the involvement of women workers in the flower cultivation. The women workforce from Kudumbashree and MGNREGA are the ones who ploughed, planted, and watered the saplings to create this blooming marigold farm.
"This is the success of collective work. The panchayat, Agriculture office, MGNREGA, Kudumbashree, and the government worked together and achieved this feat. It was also part of a project to convert barren lands to agriculture farms," Mallika, Pallichal Panchayat President said.
In Pallichal panchayat alone, 26 acres of land have been converted into flower farms. Private individuals have also come forward to join the government initiative and cultivated flowers on their lands.
"We used to grow grass for cattle on the slopes of this hill. But when the authorities talked about this initiative, we also joined. We are sure that this is going to be a big success as all our plants have flowered, making this tourist area more beautiful," Ramesh, a young farmer, who takes care of a 5-acre farm in Valiyavila Panchayat, said.
When the Panchayat authorities started the farming project, women workers from Kudumbashree and MNREGA got fully immersed in it, unmindful of the time they spent at the farm.
The results are breathtaking and people from all parts of Thiruvananthapuram are now coming to admire the sight.
The panchayat will hold flower markets in the city for people to buy fresh flowers at a low cost. They are also supplying flowers to flower vendors in markets like Chala in Thiruvananthapuram.
"The agriculture department supported this initiative wholeheartedly and helped them secure quality saplings. Our team also helps them with technical support at the farm," C V Jayadas, agriculture officer, Vilappilsala told PTI.
Thiruvananthapuram has never thought of cultivating flowers, thinking that the soil and climate may not support the crop. However, this new experiment has become a success and may prompt many other panchayats to follow the model.
"This may help us produce the flowers that we want here," MLA Satheesh said.