Prosperity, Happiness and Self Sustenance - A Kitex Model Development

KrishiJagran Kerala correspondent in conversation with Shri. Sabu M. Jacob Chairman of the Kitex Group of Companies.
KrishiJagran Kerala correspondent in conversation with Shri. Sabu M. Jacob Chairman of the Kitex Group of Companies.

Alienating established political parties and self-proclaimed leaders of development, a model of self-sustained growth is being developed at Kizhakkambalam, a village in Kochi, Kerala.  This village is a typical example of a model village, with greenery and organic farming on one hand and amenities and infrastructure on another hand. The guiding force of this village aims to bring equal prosperity to each and every villager. The great visionary who sow the seeds for this was none other than famous industrialist Shri. M C. Jacob, founder of Kitex Group. Now the leadership is under Shri. Sabu M. Jacob, Son of M.C Jacob, and also the present Chairman of the Kitex Group.

Q? M.C Jacob was a respectable industrialist in Kerala, how you evaluate the shift of leadership from him to the next generation?

Our father wished the growth of the village along with the growth of Industry and we also believe in the same and we are endeavoring for it.

Q? How Kitex entered to food safety and organic farming sector and what are the influencing factors?

We are not only focusing on industries and also on all sectors of development.  While referring to village development it is not only about giving an impetus to agriculture but also inclusive of infrastructure development, housing, and food security. Agriculture is just a part of village development.  At the same time, agriculture is the basis of humanity.  The imbalance that happened as a result of the shift from agriculture to industries became the root cause for all the issues. When human beings led a life in harmony with nature there was fewer health issues and disease.  We intend to bring the best of old days along with the fruits of development.

We focus on cleaning ponds, small water bodies, proper waste disposal and bringing barren land under cultivation.  We have observed that it has brought positive changes to the ecosystem. Frogs, crickets and small fishes like carps can be found here in abundance which was about to vanish. We may think, the frog is insignificant but they play a significant role in controlling mosquitoes, same with small fishes they prey on mosquito eggs and also they purify water. The worst damage to nature is done in the form of constructing innumerable buildings, at the same time which cannot be undone, we intend to move forward with the available resources.

Q? Is there any influence of Kerala Government’s Janakeeyasootranam and Kanjikuzhi Panchayat Model?

The success rate of a scheme is measured in terms of a number of participants and practitioners. Here we experimented kitchen garden among 500 people. For that they need an interest in farming also. Later we concentrated farming in an area and started in a commercial manner, the advantage of practicing agriculture in a commercial manner as compared to kitchen garden is that we can help and take care of farming in a better way. Any issues like a pest, can be tackled easily as compared to kitchen garden spread in different households.

Chicken available in market are grown by injecting hormone and are not good for health. Here we have chicken grown in a natural manner and the byproducts are used for making organic waste. In order to ensure quality supply of fish, fish farming is practiced in a systematic way. For fish farming a pond is set by growing algae and small fishes which feed on Algae are introduced. Later Varaal fish (Snakehead aka River Sole) will be introduced which consumes small fishes. So the fishes from this pond have high nutritional value.

Q? Why only in Kizhakkambalam?

Not like that. This is our village and here is where our industries are located. So we just want to make this a model panchayat and then analyzing its pros and cons we will extend to other parts.

Q? Describe rain water harvesting, waste disposal, and bio gas?

In last two years we have no scarcity of water. Even when Ernakulum District was facing scarcity of water, here water was available in abundance. Regular cleaning of canals and constructing check dams enabled to retain water. Special initiatives are taken to protect ponds. Every house should have a rain water harvesting method. We are planning to implant biogas plant in each and every household. But there is a limitation as this can solve only organic waste.

For addressing the issue of plastic waste, the existing structure is not enough and we have launched Clean Kizhakkambalam Project. Under every ward should be cleaned by the members of that ward, they have to clean the road and canal that come under their ward limit. This has to be done every Sunday and around 200 to 300 members have to do it voluntarily. They have to clean the pavement and clear the foliage.

Q? Other Agricultural Activities?

We envision to make Kizhakkambalam a health village also. By 2019, Herbs will be farmed on commercial basis.  One medicinal plant will be provided for one home. They can choose and cultivate the same in their backyard. This can add additional revenue to the villagers. Sugarcane cultivation is also in stack, which will be used for making jaggery. We are determined to make use of every inch of the barren land. Sugarcane farming is not very popular in Kerala but it is really promising. There are schemes for goat, hen and flower farming, total responsibility from farming to market will be undertaken by the group.

Q? All the products in food security market are produced?

People hesitate to do farming here due to the manual labor needed and also due to the expense they have to bear on this regard. When we distributed free plantain saplings, none took effort to plant it eventually it got rotten. At the same time, when we distributed plantain and took initiative to plant it by sending a team, it became successful. We have planted around 200000plantains and that created excess product in the market. So we sold it for Rs. 30 and gave the farmers same amount. Both the consumers and producers became happy, because normally a kg was sold for Rs. 60 and farmers were paid Rs. 20. By regulating the market price, both producers and consumers became happy. We buy products from the producers and sold to consumers at same cost, which brings no loss to producers but only profit.

Q? How you look upon Gandhi Ji’s GramaSwaraj and Compare it with Kizhakkambalam.?

This is the complete manifestation of GandhiJi’s dream. Gandhi Ji’s dream of self-sufficient and sustainable development can be seen here in its complete form.

Q? How far you were able to make every household of Kizhakkambalam  a self-sufficient unit ?

We have faced several obstacles especially from political parties. There were even occasions of that we were not able to make a forward step. Even Panchayat opposed us directly. In that situation we started to tackle it. We contested election and won seats. On that occasion we faced opposition from ruling party, opposition party and from all spheres. They were worried to lose their significance. But now we have surpassed that.  We have clear account of everything. We have constructed houses, road and implement schemes in a time bound manner and we will achieve our target within 2 and half years.

Q? What all plans in stake?

We intent to bring in developments and changes according to present trend. Focus will not only be on agriculture but also on allied activities.  But we will ensure a balanced growth. 

Interviewed by Dhanya M.T, Krishi Jagran Kerala

Translated by Sreeja , Krishi Jagran Kerala

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