Vegetables are the store houses of most of the vitamins and minerals and also proteins. The nutritional value of vegetables is unsurpassed – many vegetables have a low glycemic index and high nutrient content compared to other foods. Since Tamil Nadu has varied climatic conditions, most of the vegetables available on earth are grown here. Of all the vegetables grown tapioca occupies the first place both in area ( 118647 Ha) and production( 40.895 Lakh MT). Other important vegetables grown in plains are Onion, Drumstick, Tomato, Chillies, Brinjal, Ladies Finger, Watermelon, Gourds and Lab lab. Major vegetable growing areas fall in Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri ,Trichy, Thiruppur, Dindigul, Erode , Villupuram, Krishnagiri , Perambalur , Nilgiris and Theni Districts. Cole vegetables like Carrot, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Peas, Potato, Beetroot are grown in Nilgiris and Parts of Dindigul districts. High value Vegetables like Capsicum and Cucumber are grown under Protected cultivation in Hosur and Thally areas of Krishnagiri district and some parts of Coimbatore and Theni districts where the elevation is around 1000 m from MSL. Recently, growers in Nilgiris District have started growing some high value cole vegetable crops having niche markets in domestic and international arena. These vegetables include Artichoke, Celery, Broccoli, Brussels sprout, Chinese cabbage (Ice berg), Kale and Zucchini. Though the volume is less these crops fetch higher returns and are grown in protected structures exploiting the climatic conditions prevailing in Nilgiris.
The standard per capita requirement of vegetables for adults is 300 g/day. But as per our current production levels, 130 g/day alone can be supplied. Hence Department of Horticulture is operating many schemes for vegetables which include area expansion, protected cultivation structures, Integrated Pest, Disease and Nutrient Management and micro Irrigation for incresing the productivity thus increasing the production. Special schemes like Peri Metro Vegetable Cluster Development Programme are operated especially to cater to the vegetable needs of urban population. Due to health safety concerns, the importance of organic vegetable production is also growing in the State. There is a sure and high end market for organically grown vegetables and many of the corporates have also entered into the area of vegetable production by the introduction of IT platform in agriculture.
PeriMetro Vegetable Cluster Development Programme
In order to ensure continuous supply of fresh vegetables to the burgeoning urban markets, it is absolutely necessary to create forward linkages from rural to urban areas. This will also ensure assured income to farmers in the rural areas adjoining the cities. Clusters of farmers will be formed to supply their produce to a society run by the farmers at the District level. Private entrepreneurs will be engaged to collect, sort, grade and pack the produce at their location and supply the same to retail outlets in the city. This scheme will be implemented as a Public Private Partnership. Cultivation of vegetables, formation of farmer clusters, formation of farmers society, collection centers, reefer vans, retail outlets, mobile stores are the components under this sub-scheme.
The scheme has been sanctioned during 2011-2012 for implementing was in Chennai city and an amount of 1700 lakhs was earmarked. In 2012-13, it has been proposed to implement this scheme in Coimbatore city in 2162 Ha. at an outlay of 1701 lakhs.