KOCHI: When India’s first food security mall, ‘Bakshya Suraksha Market’ will open at Kizhakkambalam on November 17 by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, it will go done in history probably as India’s first such mall. And for a reason.The prices of the products will be effectively less than 50- 70 per cent of the current market prices. For example, while coconut oil is being sold at Rs 240 in the present market, at the Kizhakkambalam mall, it will be available at Rs 90. During the festive seasons, the prices will remain the same.
The mall, which is spread on 10,000 sq. ft. will bring a wide variety of food under one umbrella -- ranging from vegetables and fruits sourced directly from farms cultivated in Kizhakkambalam itself, to meat, apart from sugar, wheat, rice, banana, plantains, and eggs. What is not available locally will be brought from neighbouring states, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. This system is being followed in the village for the past four years, however, in a temporary set up. Soon, baby foods, cosmetics, and sanitary napkins will also find a place on the top shelves.
According to Sabu M Jacob, chief coordinator of Twenty 20 Kizhakkambalam and managing director of Kitex Garments Ltd, the average expense of a four-member family is Rs 3,000. “This includes provisional food and vegetables along with bakery and daily use items,” he said.
The Food Security Mall follows the National Food Security Act of 2013 and was formulated for the deprived sections of Indian society. “In fact, the people of Kizhakkambalam have been following this model since 2014 which is why they have never had to experience any difficult situation because of a steep rise in prices,” Sabu said.
Only Kizhakkambalam residents, around 62,000, can avail of this facility. The 1,050 families who gave away their land for the development of roads, will receive free vegetables and food products during their lifetime. This perk is also available for below poverty single mothers and old and abandoned parents.
Meanwhile, feeding mothers and pregnant women will receive free access to milk and eggs during a stipulated time-frame, while 1,500 children below six years will also benefit from this free scheme. Miscellaneous items such as cosmetics and napkins will be available to everyone at subsidised rates.
The model has been envisioned by Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam, a charity organisation floated by the Anna-Kitex Group, which runs the village. The No. 1 goal is to make the Kizhakkambalam panchayat the best panchayat in India by the year 2020. Sabu says the mall is one such step towards achieving this aim.
“We are bringing about change in housing, water, and waste management. However, food is our priority, because this was based on a survey we conducted in 2013. In the survey, we learnt there were some families who could afford food only once a day, or in two days. This is what spurred us to come up with such a concept,” says Sabu, who is following his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps when it comes to charity.
Benefit for farmers
The produce is purchased from farmers who are given a fixed floor price. Right now, many vegetable products, banana, plantains, eggs and milk are home grown. Copra is sourced from Pollachi but processed in mills. The Twenty20 Kizhakkamabalam aims to make the village self-sufficient in all vegetables by 2020.