Kitchen Gardens Disappear, Thanks To Simian Menace

Bhubaneswar: Growing vegetable plants either at the frontal or backyard of the house, a passionate pastime for urban dwellers, is on its way out in Odisha’s coastal districts, thanks to acts vandalism by simian species.

In popular parlance, it is referred as ‘kitchen garden’, providing soothing green ambience to houses in urban clusters. Amid concrete jungles, gardens with its luxuriant green look were refreshingly pleasing in the din and bustle of urban life. But as things stand now, urbanites are having second thoughts to nurture the gardens with monkeys going berserk in coastal townships.

With concrete replacing tree cover, the itinerant and hopping animals target the standing vegetable plants in quest of food.

The practice of kitchen garden at the frontal vacant space or at the backyard of their house had gained acceptance in majority of Odisha’s urban spots in recent years. But the popular practice has been relegated to the rear in coastal townships solely due to menace unleashed by rampaging monkeys. Now-a-days, very few houses in coastal areas have luxuriant vegetable plants intact. However in Western Odisha districts, the practice is still in vogue as monkey menace is less pronounced.

Deputy Director Agriculture, Sridhar Dash said “Cultivation of vegetables at the garden is the need of the hour. As the prices of vegetables are skyrocketing, it would earn precious savings for family. What is most important is that vegetables grown in our garden are tastier and healthier since there is no use of chemical and pesticides. We have received reports of people in urban areas stopping vegetable gardening following monkey menace. The department has drawn the attention of forest department to end the trouble from monkey front so as to enable the people to continue home gardening”.

In the urban areas of Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Khurda, Puri and Kendrapara districts, the monkeys have forced majority residents to skip kitchen gardening. As hordes of monkeys vandalize the plants, people find it a tough proposition to stop the monkeys from destroying the plantation, he said.

“The Agriculture department is flooded with complaints in this regard. However, we are left undone as containing simian menace does not fall within our jurisdiction. We had advised the complainants to take up growing spinach and green leaves as monkeys usually do not trample upon them. But of late, the monkeys have not spared the spinach. Covering the plantation with nets is a solution to ward off monkeys. But it is an expensive affair”, said the official.

Local residents are uniform in their opinion that monkeys are the sole deterrent in disappearance of kitchen gardens in urban households.

“I love gardening from childhood. My backyard space of my house had been converted into kitchen garden while the frontal space was made use of for flower plants. I whiled away my retirement life by such constructive work. Now the flower garden is intact. But the veg garden was target of vandalism of monkeys. I have given up vegetable farming. I had reared brinjal, tomatoes, spinach, beans in the garden. I was not entirely dependent on market for vegetable buying. Now this has become a thing of past”, said Abani Kumar Mohanty, a retired state government employee of Jajpur township.

According to Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Khurda Forest Division, Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, monkeys’ menace has not assumed alarming proportion in Khurda district. “However, we continue to receive public complaints in this regard at periodic intervals. The monkeys are trouble-makers more in district like Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur and Kendrapara”, he said.

“The department is aware of people’s problem. Monkeys often destroy the vegetable plants. There are reports of people getting injured by monkey attacks at periodic intervals. From time to time, we have initiated steps to cage the rowdy and rogue monkeys and release them in forest areas”, said Bimal Prasanna Acharya, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) forest Division.