Soon, farmers of northern districts of the State would supply fresh vegetables and greens directly to the farm fresh outlets in Chennai under the Peri-Metro Vegetable Cluster Development Programme, which is likely to be launched next month.
The programme, which is being executed at a cost of Rs 17 crore under the National Agriculture Development Programme, has been designed to empower farmers to fix prices and enable urban residents to purchase vegetables at nominal rates, principal secretary to the State government and commissioner of agriculture products Sandeep Saxena told reporters after interacting with farmers in Keelveedi village in Nemili block in Vellore district on Friday. It also aims to triple the farmers’ income and double the yield of farm produce.
A total of 19 collection centres and 200 farmers’ groups have been formed in Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Tiruvallur and Vellore districts under the programme to cater to the needs of Chennaiites. The departments of Horticulture, Agriculture and Cooperative are the implementing authorities of the scheme. “The programme is likely to be launched in September. The farmers’ produce will be procured by the Cooperative Department from collection centres in each district and transported to farm fresh outlets in Chennai,” he said.
The farmers’ groups will be provided financial assistance and subsidies to procure necessary equipment and vehicles. “Farmers can also sell their produce to noon meal centres, educational institutions and other commercial outlets. This programme will eliminate the middleman,” said Saxena. Calling the programme a win-win situation for farmers and consumers, Saxena said, “It will empower the farmers to fix prices. On the other hand, the consumer will get vegetables and greens at a nominal price.”
For their part, the farmers urged the officials to provide them tractors, which can be used for transporting vegetables and ploughing. Responding positively, Saxena said that the farmers can utilise the financial aid and subsidy as per their needs.
“The officials will provide quality seeds according to the demands of the farmers and also extend their expertise,” said Saxena, who visited Mothakkal village in Tiruvannamalai district on Saturday.
The programme will be extended to Kovai and Tiruchy districts in a phased manner.“Now, farmers’ groups are being constituted in the districts around Coimbatore. After implementing it in Coimbatore, it will be extended to Tiruchy,” he noted.