If the lockdown has taught us anything, it is that the agriculture sector is very important.
With the looming scarcity of vegetables among other basic edibles in the market, the question of being self-reliant with your food has arisen.
What if India can’t export vegetables? Due to lockdown, our farmers have not got the needed fertilisers and seeds, and we might not have vegetables in the market as a result. But as we have the habit of consuming vegetables, “it is time to be self-dependent by growing our own vegetables,” Kumar Kasaju Shrestha, Proprietor of Kathmandu Nursery opines, pointing out that “we might not be 100 per cent independent” however.
You don’t have to grow everything that you put on the plate. “You don’t have to grow rice, wheat… You can grow the basics,” informs agriculturist Yamuna Ghale.
As per her, if you sow coriander in a pot alternatively in a gap of two-three weeks, you will be able to grow the coriander that you need.
Ghale has been keeping a kitchen garden at her home in Sunakothi for more than a decade now. Seventy-eighty per cent of the vegetables that her family consumes comes from the kitchen garden.
As such she believes growing your own food is possible even in urban setting.
“One needs to have that desire for it and put some extra effort,” she shares.
If one wishes, one can also grow vegetables on terrace, balcony or patio using new and simple technology available in the market, as per Shrestha. From drip irrigation, soluble fertiliser, varieties of pots, seeds to growing media like coco peat, peat moss are available in the market along with home delivery services and general ideas on growing, and manpower to set up a kitchen garden.
Urban agriculture is “about space management,” as per Ghale. She has used all possible space including the vertical space to grow kiwi, grapes, coriander, to seasonal vegetables like brinjal, tomatoes, garlic and onion among 16-17 varieties.
“In that way, you can eat fresh, chemical-free food, and one will develop respect for nature as well as farmers. It is not necessary that you have to grow all by yourself. You can grow whatever you can and desire to plant,” Ghale adds.
She is satisfied that “I am not feeding chemical poison food to my family”.
With the start of the lockdown, there were doubts the coronavirus could transmit through vegetables. So, Shrestha utilised herbs grown from his kitchen garden and fresh vegetables available around his house in Kapan.
By going for urban agriculture, he believes one will not only get to eat fresh vegetables but also be tension-free.
“The more we are in line with nature, you are relieved of tensions,” shares Shrestha who is busy at his nursery since the second week of lockdown.
Though not everyone can grow their own vegetables and fruits, Ghale believes that middle-class as well as upper-income people can afford it by exploring their resources, time and contacts.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 6, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.