An 'Organic' Mobile Van to Spread the Message of Healthy Eating
KALPETTA: In a simple but effective move to spread the message of healthy and cost-effective eating, a panchayat in Wayanad with a population of about 30,500 has taken up a project that could serve as a model for other panchayati raj institutions in the state.
Vellamunda panchayat’s move to roll out a mobile van to ferry organically grown local products has encouraged many farmers in the area to part ways with chemical farming and embrace organic methods. The project is being implemented with the assistance of Bodhi women self-help Group, based in Cherukara, the 16th ward of the panchayat.
Every morning, on receiving the calls, the vehicle goes to the site to collect vegetables from farmers and products made by self-help groups before travelling the length and breadth of the Mananthavady taluk, selling them at reasonable prices.
“A supply network of over 100 farmers forms the crux of the scheme. We have started with marketing vegetables, fruits and leaves grown by small-scale farmers apart from organic eggs and produce grown in kitchen gardens. Also, we are trying to assist self-help groups to sell their products,” said ward member Prathyush C G. The self-help groups had been badly in need of an innovative marketing strategy as they were finding it difficult to sell their products, he said. “Products such as pickles, pappads, masala powders and processed/canned items that do not perish and adhere to minimum quality standards, are procured from self-help groups and marketed along with vegetables and fruits,” he said.
Notably, the move to provide direct marketing facilities to farmers has led to a significant rise in their incomes.
“This method helps us avoid the presence of middlemen and ensure maximum profits to the farmers. Since these products are grown locally, they are priced much lesser than that in the open market. For example, one kilogram of tapioca costs `15-20 in the local market, but the middlemen pay the farmer only `4-5 for the same. But, we collect it from farmers paying `7 a kg and sell it for `9,” said panchayat president P P Muhammed.
The panchayat has plans to expand the project by roping in Kudumbashree units.
“If we are able to widen our network, we will be able to provide vegetables to schools for the mid-day meal programme in the near future,” Muhammed added.