THENI: The State government’s efforts to establish food parks in Theni, Manapparai and Tindivanam with support from the Union government has evoked positive response from farmers. These parks will provide us better avenues to export our produce and reduce wastage, they said.
Agriculture Minister MRK Paneerselvam during his agri budget speech in the Assembly on Saturday said, “The Union government has declared the parks registered by SIPCOT as mega food parks due to the State government’s efforts. In the upcoming financial year, the parks will come up in Theni, Tindivanam (Villupuram district), and Manapparai (Tiruchy district) at an estimated cost of Rs 381.38 crore.”
The park at Theni district, which is one of the top producers of mango and banana, will be spread over 451 acres. S Vasanthan, Chief Executive Officer, EDII Periyakulam Horti Business Incubation Forum, said, “This initiative will encourage farmers to convert their produce into value-added products if it will bring them higher revenues. They will also receive better warehousing facilities. A total of 9,385 hectares of land is under cultivation in Theni district, and 35,000 tonnes of mangoes were produced in the year 2020-21. Major companies will be able to directly purchase produce through the food parks, and this will immensely benefit the farmers, as middlemen will have no more role here.”
Similarly, the district also produces around 4.21 lakh tonnes of bananas annually. “The food park will provide the farmers a ripening chamber for bananas. All these benefits together will indirectly boost the State’s economy,” he added. K Kamraj, a farmer from Theni, said grading of farm produce may become much smoother and efficient with the launch of food parks.
Speaking to TNIE, Agri Business Directorate Deputy Director (Tiruchy) Saravanan said the focus is on value added products. “Rice is the primary product of Tiruchy district, and there is limited scope of making value-added products from rice. Next is banana, which can be converted to various products. Farmers should make full use of this opportunity,” he said.
Meanwhile, farmers in Tindivanam said the food park was announced during the previous government’s tenure. During his 2018 budget address, the then Finance Minister O Paneerselvam announced a park at Pelakuppam village near Tindivanam. On September 11, 2019, the then chief secretary K Shanmugam had inspected the proposed site.
(With inputs from Bagalavan Perier B)