CHENNAI: Chennaites could soon get farm-fresh vegetables with a proposed 'Modern Agricultural Marketing Centre' being set up at Kolathur, which falls under the Chennai Corporation. But traders are hoping that the government will also go on to set up a mega market in the city's outskirts that can sell fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy and flowers under one roof.
Minister for Agriculture and Farmer's welfare, MRK Panneerselvam, who presented the first agriculture budget of the state, said the centre will be set up to ensure that the farm-fresh vegetables reach the people of Chennai.
The centre, to be set up at a cost of Rs 1 crore by the state government, will house shops selling farmers' produce, products of farmer producer organizations, organic products, and also a solar-powered cold-storage facility.
Through this centre, products will be sold to the consumers at fair prices and this will pave the way for consumers and farmers to benefit mutually.
AM Vikramaraja, President of Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangankalain Peramaippu, a traders union, told The New Indian Express that the centre will not have any impact on the trade at the Koyambedu Wholesale Market. Instead, he said there is a need for such a market as the demand for fruits and vegetables is high in the city, which has a population of more than one crore.
Vikaramaraja says he along with other traders had held a meeting with officials recently and suggested they build the largest fresh produce market in the city to sell fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy and flowers under one roof.
"In Chennai, such a facility is lacking and we have suggested two to three places," says Vikramaraja.
This market could have multi-storage cold storage, tropical fruit ripening chambers, meat processing, food processing, ice chamber, wholesale market, retail market, flower market and farmers' market.
The demand comes on the heels of news that a 500-acre state-of-the art food park, modelled after the world's largest fresh produce market in Rungis in France, is set to spring up in the outskirts of Chennai. The Indo-French joint venture company GSE Avigna signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government to invest Rs 2,000 crore in the mega food park.
Meanwhile, after the success of the sale of farm-fresh vegetables to consumers at their doorsteps during the lockdown in May 2021, the government now plans to launch a pilot in five corporations.
The agriculture minister announced that he will be introducing 30 mobile vegetable shops, which will be operated in five Corporations - Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore, Salem and Tiruppur.
A subsidy of 40 percent or Rs 2 lakhs - whichever is less - will be provided to rural youth who are into farming to purchase these vehicles.
For this, an amount of Rs 60 lakh will be allocated from the Tamil Nadu State Agricultural Marketing Board fund. The sale price of fruits and vegetables sold through these mobile shops will be fixed based on the rates at the nearest Uzhavar Sandhai.