BANGALORE: Horticultural Producers’ Co-operative Marketing and Processing Society Ltd (HOPCOMS) launched the Grapes and Watermelon-2012 Mela near Lalbagh West Gate on Wednesday.
The seasonal produce that has been purchased from farmers of Bijapur, Bagalkot, Koppal, Kolar and Bangalore rural districts will be sold to consumers in select retail outlets of HOPCOMS for the next one month. Thereby, HOPCOMS is providing a platform for farmers to sell their produce to the consumers directly.
Speaking on the occasion, President of HOPCOMS, B V Chikkana said, “Through this mela we want to bring the consumers and sellers face to face and give no place for middlemen. Here, farmers can reap the benefit of their hard work.”
When questioned on the problems pertaining to cultivation faced by the farmers, he replied, “Issues such as soil fertility, insufficient water and lack of skilled labour have been some major problems. With price rise, global warming and climatic changes, the cost of production has gone up affecting the profit margins.”
Elaborating on the problems faced farmers, a research scholar in Horticulture, Pushpa, said, “The basic problem is marketing. Next is proper nutrient management. Last year, due to untimely rains, the production was affected. But, we are hoping that this year will be a good one for the farmers.” Another research student said, “Grapes are prone to attract diseases like powdery mildew, downy mildew and anthrocnose. These can be treated through proper medication. However, the fertilizers and medicines have become so expensive that most farmers cannot afford them.”
When City Express interacted with some consumers, reactions were contradicting the very purpose of the mela. “The price per kilogram is very high here compared to the market outside. Thompson seedless grapes are priced at `52 per kg, red globe at `360, Krishna Sharad at `80 and Sharad at `180,” said Sheela, a homemaker. Voicing a similar opinion is Shafi, an employee at a BPO. “I don’t think this mela serves any purpose as there is no difference between the price of the produce here and in other markets. I think it is cheaper outside. They call these fruits as organic produce, but we wonder if they are really organic or is it just a trade gimmick.”