THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: This year, around 3,000 metric tonnes of vegetables were procured by the agriculture department as part of the ‘Onathinu Oru Muram Pachakari’ initiative in Thiruvananthapuram. The authorities are on a mission to make locally-cultivated organic produce available to residents at a 30 per cent discount as compared to the open market.
To source the vegetables worth Rs 1.60 crore, the government paid a 10 per cent higher price to the farmers, giving them a huge relief during these troubling times. There are around 45 Agri eco shops under the agriculture department that procure and sell organic produce from local farmers through 89 Krishi Bhavans in the district. The department has set up around 107 Onam markets in Thiruvananthapuram this year.
Baiju S Simon, Principal Agriculture Officer for the district, told TNIE that the department had distributed around 5 lakh seed packets and 25 lakh seedlings to farmers and other beneficiaries in the district under the ‘Onathinu Orumuram Pachakari’ initiative.
According to him, around 4,000 metric tonnes of vegetables are expected to be harvested as part of the initiative.
“Yield is really good thanks to the favourable weather conditions. This year, we have branded the produce based on good agriculture practices, like 100 per cent organic varieties. We have also decided not to use plastic carry bags at Onam markets. Instead, we are using cloth bags procured from Kudumbashree,” said Baiju S Simon.
More urban street markets planned
Baiju said that the department is planning to market the produce too. “We are planning to start more urban street markets in the capital for this. We aim to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. This would help both parties,” he said. The department is also planning to build a network between various Agri eco shops.
“If an eco shop doesn’t have a certain product, we will be able to source it from other shops,” he added. The agriculture department and local bodies have also tied up with residents’ associations to ensure the products reach consumers.
“People are hesitant to visit markets. The department is selling their produce at reasonable rates. Many residents’ associations have already signed up to procure vegetables and distribute them among people,” said Paraniyam Devakumar, patron of Federation of Residents Association Thiruvananthapuram.
He said the authorities have agreed to bring vegetable trucks to the respective areas.
Relief for farmers
Unnikrishnan B, a local farmer, is happy he received better prices this year. “I harvested around seven tonnes of vegetables for Onam and got to sell them at better prices. The scheme is a huge relief for many farmers given the pandemic and economic meltdown,” said Unnikrishnan, who has been farming for the
past 20 years.