If you are returning after a long overseas trip, there is a good chance that you may be out of groceries when you reach home. But no need to fret, well at least if you live in Kochi. Fresh vegetables and fruits can be bought from an outlet near the arrivals area at the Cochin international airport.
You can choose from a healthy selection of hand-picked ash gourd or white pumpkin, okra, cucumber and fresh beans.
It is quite convenient and useful if we are to get organic vegetables from the farm inside the airport premises itself.Anil Manimala, passenger
Another passenger Ansari Thankappa says he was surprised to see fresh vegetables being sold at the airport. An estimated 30,000 air passengers pass through the airport daily.
Cochin International Airport is the first solar-powered airport in India that meets all its energy needs with the help of a 12 MW solar power plant built with German engineering technology.
The commercial cultivation of organic vegetables is being done on the area covered by the photovoltaic panels of the airport's solar plant.
Using a combination of crop management and drip irrigation, a variety of vegetables are grown over approximately 45 acres of land in between the panels.
The moisture retained in the soil by the plant roots also helps keep the panels dust free and saves the cost of de-weeding the land. Authorities say they plan to extend the commercial cultivation to more vacant land available at the airport in a phased manner.
The Managing Director of Cochin International Airport, VJ Kurian, says the output of vegetables grew to nearly 80 tons in 2017.
We have approximately 8,000 people who are working in this airport and we have almost 30,000 people who are using this airport as travellers. Whatever is left beyond what is purchased by the employees, we sell to the travellers.VJ Kurian, MD, Cochin International Airport
The water used to clean the nearly 46,000 photovoltaic solar panels does not contain detergent so it can be used to grow vegetables on the ground underneath.
The success of the project has attracted many students and researchers, who visit the solar farm to study cultivation practices that make use of natural sunlight and do not use chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Airport authorities are now planning to launch commercially branded vegetables and sell them in the city's shopping malls and supermarkets.
(With inputs from AP)
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj