Sunday, February 25, 2024

Urbangreens: Paving way for sustainable health in Naga community


KOHIMA, DEC 29 (NPN): With the right motivation, even Naga youth can script success stories in entrepreneurship. That’s what 43-year-old Vikhapi Valeo has proved.
Valeo and his wife Hokali have pioneered microgreens in the State. What started as an experimental trail with pea and mustard during the 2020 lockdown has now turned into a small but established local business, growing and supplying microgreens in the State Capital.
Microgreens are essentially young vegetable greens that have an aromatic flavour and concentrated nutrient content and come in a variety of colours and textures. Microgreens are considered baby plants, falling somewhere between a sprout and baby green.
Researching through articles on micro-vegetables, Valeo, a father of four, is a self-taught grower who has developed a keen interest on the concept of microgreens and has expanded it to crops like broccoli, purple radish, sunflower, kohlrabi and wheat grass.
He said the young green vegetables were grown with an aim to provide a healthy alternative lifestyle to the Nagas.
The couple initially experimented with soil from the backyard and manure, but moved to cocopeat as it was more sterilised and reliable in comparison. They usually grow the greens under LED lights as these required about 10-15 hours of light depending on the requirement of the crop. Under Kohima conditions, the greens require a temperature of 18-220C and humidity range of 40-60% and sufficient water as well. With proper light and suitable conditions, the greens get ready for harvesting within 6-7days while attaining 3-4 inches of growth.
Owner of Urbangreens, Valeo mentioned that these greens could be grown year round, if one could make the climate suitable for their growth.
After harvesting the greens, they are weighed and packed. The residues and leftover cocopeats are kept for manure in the field as they are nitrogen-fixing plants and used as natural manure in fields and kitchen gardens.
He said the demand for microgreens have increased gradually in Kohima, with growing health consciousness among the people. The products are available in Kiwi outlets here. Urbangreens can also be contacted on special media platform Instagram @urbangrowers21. Studies have shown that younger leaves of plants have higher levels of antioxidants and vitamins in comparison to matured plants. Due to their high nutritional profile, microgreens are now considered the future of farming with shorter growing period, ability to be grown year round and less space usage.
These superfoods are known for their nutritional profile, containing vitamin A,C, E and K, Omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, etc, and pose a good alternative to boost general well-being.

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