Trivandrum: Kerala depends heavily on its neighboring states for meeting its vegetable requirements. The annual vegetable production of Kerala is 40% of its requirement. The veggies that we eat now are grown using pesticides, more than the permissible amounts mostly from neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Efforts have been made for increasing vegetable production in the state through kitchen gardens. But is that enough?
To improve production, authorities have to reach out to people. Make available vegetable seeds and other organic measures with a view to increase vegetable production and to make available pesticide free, good quality and safe vegetables to its people. There are ways to increase crop yield organically like using organic fertilizers and high yielding varieties.
About the health consequences, Dr. Althaf Ali, an Associate Professor in the department of community medicine in Trivandrum Medical College, now teaching in Oman said, "Pesticides are used for protecting crops, it also is potentially toxic to humans. They may induce adverse health effects including cancer, effects on reproductive system, immune or nervous system."
Random interviews of citizens in Kazhakkuttam and Chalai markets revealed that even less educated housewives are well aware of the health risks these veggies pose.
Shyni (32), a house wife from Kulathoor said about the issue of poisoned vegetables, "I know that the vegetables from Tamil Nadu contain poison. We have no option, we have to buy it. I do some cultivation in my garden but it is not enough. Though I have heard about Krishi Bhavan giving assistance to growing vegetables at home, I have never gone to them nor any person come to us."
Vasantha (53), from Pongara says, "I immerse vegetables bought from the market in salt and turmeric water for 10 minutes before I cook. Everyone says that vegetables we buy are grown using harmful pesticides, I am not sure, but I don’t want to take any chances and so I wash them well." She added, "I cultivate some beans, but I have no land. No one from Krishi Bhavan has approached us."
Nirmala (58) of Kumizhikkara selling coconuts in Kazhakkottam market was aware of the vegetables coming from outside Kerala are poisoned. She said, "I cultivate some banana and ladies finger though on a very limited scale in my small land of 5 cents."
Leela (63), a housewife from Pravachampalam said, " I know poisoned vegetables can cause cancer. I wash in salt and turmeric water. I am in a rented house and so no option to cultivate."
The people that Yentha spoke to were generally aware of the health risks of poisoned vegetables, even ordinary housewives. People are looking for alternatives to get safe vegetables but left with limited options. They are forced to eat the vegetables that they already know are harmful. People are ready to cultivate even in their limited way if authorities could lend them a hand.
Subsidies to cultivate at home like giving subsidized seeds, carry bags for cultivation on terrace for those who have less land are given by Krishi Bhavan now. But their efficiency in reaching out to more households is a tad doubtful.
Though everyone from an ordinary housewife to authorities are aware of the health risks posed by vegetables that come from outside the state, little is done by the authorities to ensure safe vegetables and thus ensure people’s health.
Helpless Citizens When It Comes To Veggies Doused In Pesticides
On Oct 25, 2016