Minister to open VFPCK facilities at Alathur

 PALAKKAD: A seed processing centre of the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK), a government undertaking, will be inaugurated by Minister for Agriculture Mullakkara Ratnakaran at Alathur on November 28.A seed training institute, a vegetable seed unit, a tissue culture laboratory, and vegetable and fruit seedling units have also been set up. The State Horticulture Mission has given financial assistance of Rs.125 lakh to the VFPCK to set up the new facilities, where the government and the farmers can come together to produce high-quality vegetable seeds.

Vegetable seeds of 20 types of high-yielding crops are produced by trained seed growers under the guidance of a seed technologist, VFPCK officials here said. At farmer sub-centres at Kollengode and Kozhinjampara, the seed lots are checked and pre-cleaned before being dispatched to the seed processing plant at Alathur, they said. The seeds are subjected to mechanical and manual processing to eliminate impure seeds and sent to the seed testing laboratory. The seed lots that qualify are procured from the farmers. The seeds are sold through the 14 district outlets to VFPCK member farmers, the Agriculture Department, panchayats, non-governmental organisations and the public.

To solve the problem of virus-infected suckers that destroy plantains, virus-indexed tissue culture plantlets will be produced in a modern laboratory. The laboratory, capable of producing up to 50,000 such plantlets a month, has begun commercial operations.

The vegetable seedling unit has been set up with an eye on domestic first-time cultivators with little time and inclination to wait for results. The problems associated with growing a plant in its initial phase are done away with by doing it in a controlled environment. The seed training institute has facilities for live demonstration models of the latest scientific practices in agriculture, including drip irrigation, fertigation, precision farming and cultivation under controlled environment, the officials said.

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