An Onam with safe, fresh vegetables

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Onam glory: Vegetables stacked for sale at the Horticorp’s stall at Palayam in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday. 

State government has opened 2,000 outlets under the aegis of Agriculture Department

The State government has opened 2,000 outlets under the umbrella of the Agriculture Department with the promise of making safe-to-eat, pesticide-free, and locally grown vegetables available this Onam.

On Sunday, a steady stream of people thronged the Horticorp outlet at Palayam where Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the ‘Onasamruddhi’ farm sale a few days ago. By the afternoon, four loads of vegetables had arrived at the outlet, open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. till Tuesday as part of the initiative.

Krishnaprasad P.K., stall manager, says vegetables grown by farmers in the State are largely available at the stall, and it is only for produce such as brinjals, beans, lady’s finger, and onion that they have to depend on other States.

Two categories

Vegetables at the outlet are sold in two categories — those procured locally and those from other States. There is a special counter for cool-clime vegetables from Vattavada and Kanthallur areas.

Plantain available at the stall are locally grown. “We do not buy plantain other than that supplied by local farmers,” Mr. Krishnaprasad says.

Farmers in the Peringamala and Vembayam areas are among those who supply vegetables and plantain to the outlet. The supply is also augmented to some extent by farmers who grow vegetables on a small scale and supply whatever excess they have after personal use to the outlet here.

Subsidised price

The subsidised price of vegetables is a good draw, he says.

“The nendran variety of plantain is being sold for over ₹75 in the open market, but here it is priced at ₹47. There is subsidy of 30 to 50% on vegetables.”

Saji John, CEO of Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK), says as compared to last year, the floods have not caused much of a dent in supply.

“Vegetables grown locally for Onam are available, and only for those grown outside the State are we dependent on others.”

The significant aspect this year is that the 2,000 outlets opened have been with the coordination of all agencies such as VFPCK, Horticorp, farmers’ collectives, and so on. Famers’ groups and clusters, he says, have put in huge efforts to supply vegetables for Onam.

Where the VFPCK farmers are concerned, a lot of planning have gone into ensuring that their produce is adequate to meet the Onam market requirements.

“Immediately after the floods, farmers have some issues in finding a market for their produce, but now, the sales are good.”

He highlighted the interventions made in the Vattavada and Kanthallur areas, under the leadership of the Agriculture Minister, to ensure that the produce reached the State markets directly.

Krishi Bhavans

“With the coordination of all agencies, steps were taken to understand how much farmers could grow and supply and their names are registered with Krishi Bhavans so that direct procurement could be done,” he says.

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