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A ray of hope for farmers amid pandemic

They reach out to customers in residential areas through mobile markets

Lockdowns to contain COVID-19 have given crisis-hit farmers in Ernakulam a new market. Small-time farmers in urban and rural areas in the district now reach out to customers by delivering vegetables and fruits on their doorstep through weekly mobile markets.

Residents’ associations are notified about the arrival of the market in their area with fruits and vegetables. Residents can then make purchases within a time of about two hours.

“Lockdowns were a big challenge to farmers who faced immense difficulty in selling their produce ranging from tomatoes and green chillies to pineapple and dragon fruit,” said Pradeep Subhash from Edappally, who is part of the implementation committee for the weekly sale of locally produced fruits and vegetables in Kalamassery municipality.

He said the initiative came under the Kalamassery municipal Krishi Bhavan under a State government project to reach out to residents in urban areas.

The rural-urban linkage will benefit farmers and residents alike, said an official of the Agriculture Department. “While farmers are able to sell produce without the help of middlemen, buyers are getting fresh products on their doorstep,” he said.

Happy occasion

The launch of the weekly street vending unit and a mobile unit was a happy occasion for small-time farmers like Saidu, who has taken about seven acres on lease from the Cochin University of Science and Technology for cultivating vegetables and fruits. He said the initiative by the Agriculture Department would give a ray of hope for struggling young farmers.

Department sources said the plan was to reach residents’ associations every week with fresh produce. “As of now, 60 residents’ associations in Kalamassery are linked to the programme,” said Mr. Subhash.

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