Farmers are supposed to receive the money from Horticorp within 48 hours.

Farmers whose agricultural produce are auctioned at the Urban World Market in Anayara can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After a delay of more than a month, these farmers would finally receive their cheques for the agricultural produce, which were procured by Horticorp during February.

As per the procurement model, the farmers were encouraged to sell the produce directly to Horticorp through wholesale markets. The farmers are supposed to receive the fair price within 48 hours of procurement through online banking.

“We depend on this money to procure various items for farming and cultivation. The delay in releasing the funds is affecting our livelihood,” said Raja Ratnam , a farmer from Kottukal cluster. Farmers of six cluster groups (25 farmers in each cluster) are yet to receive the payment for Rs.20 lakh worth surplus produce, which was procured by Horticorp in the month of February-March.

Assistant Director of Agriculture, A. Kalakumari told The Hindu that payments for the procurement made in the month of February were released from the market fund.

“Delay in releasing the funds from Horticorp was affecting the farmers, so a payment of Rs.11 lakh was made to the farmers from the available market fund for the month of February. It is not possible to depend on these funds for future payments. On Thursday , after a month’s delay we finally received the funds, which will be dispersed in two days, ” said Ms.Kalakumari.

Speaking to The Hindu, Director of State Horticulture Mission K.Prathapan, who holds additional charge of Horticorp said that the funds were not released by the Agriculture Department on time, which has forced Horticorp to depend on its internal revenue for the past nine months.

“The funds meant for Horticorp are diverted for other ventures under the Department of Agriculture, which has caused the delay. If the funds are to be released in time, there should be a facility under Horticorp for direct fund transfer and market intervention,” said Mr. Prathapan.

Horticorp procures both grade one and grade two produce at the same rate.

This has proved costly to it. The officials have now decided to reject last grade agricultural produce and has encouraged direct procurement from farms to help the farmers receive a fair price without the intervention of middle men, added the Director.