Horticorp procured 60% vegetables from within the State

Salespersons at the Horticorp stall near the Central Stadium at Palayam barely glanced up when a minor squabble disrupted the queue there on Sunday morning. “It has been happening over the past few days. We are used to it now. They’ll glare at each other and argue about who was here first for a while and then proceed to make their purchase. No need to worry,” said the assistant sales manager here, Soni Alex, even as the voices of two angry last-minute shoppers rose over the heavy traffic outside.

The other customers, there to stock up for the Thiruvonam ‘sadya,’ too were least bothered. The biggest demand on the day was for varieties of plantain and onions.

Rs.5 lakh in a day

The government’s subsidised outlets were the preferred destination for most shoppers. Sales figures scaled up in the days leading up to Onam with those at the Horticorp mela at Pazhavangadi crossing Rs.5 lakh on Saturday.

Though it was nearing lunchtime near the Central Stadium stall, the queue snaked beyond the compound.

Shoppers knew that the last truck had arrived on Sunday morning and the stock would not be replenished until after Onam.

This particular unit of Horticorp was set up in July to rein in vegetable prices in the months leading to Ramzan and Onam.

Extension granted

Because of the stall’s popularity, the University of Kerala, which owns the plot, has permitted Horticorp to keep it open there until December 31.

Horticorp Managing Director K. Prathapan, who is also director of the State Horticulture Mission, told The Hindu that over the past three months, Horticorp outlets in the State registered sales of Rs.35.14 crore. Around 18,019 tonnes of vegetables — thrice the quantity sold last year — were procured and sold at subsidised rates.

“Moreover, we sourced over 60 per cent of these vegetables directly from farmers, collectives such as Sanghamythri and clusters of the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam – all of them in Kerala,” said Mr. Prathapan.

The top two

Every district, especially Wayanad and Idukki, contributed handsomely. Thiruvananthapuram’s share was Rs.3.2 crore worth of produce.

As per Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan’s directive, all Horticorp initiatives would continue to function even after Onam, but without the 30-40 per cent subsidy. Even then, the price would be at least 10 per cent less than the prevailing market price.

The initiative to deal directly with farmers’ groups in Nasik has also managed to keep the price of onions in check. The maximum price was Rs.53, even as the market price touched Rs.80.