A little over 10 crore people visited the uzhavar sandhais across the State and purchased vegetables/fruits weighing 6.39 lakh tonnes valued at Rs.870 crore during 2009-10, said a top official in the Agricultural Marketing Department.

According to the official, there has been a steady rise not only in the vegetable arrivals since January from the fields to the sandhais but also the number of visitors has risen phenomenally.

During 2008-09, the uzhavar sandhais in the State had sold 5.40 lakh tonnes of vegetables valued at Rs.657 crore and a little over nine crore people had visited them, he told The Hindu on Monday.

On an average, 3.35 lakh people had visited and purchased 1,944 tonnes of vegetables worth Rs.2.65 crore every day in the sandhais. The uzhavar sandhais had come as a boon to small and marginal farmers to directly sell their produce to the consumers. “It is a win-win situation for both the buyer and seller and for their part the officials monitored the prices on a daily basis and performed the role of a catalyst,” he said.

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi inaugurated the first uzhavar sandhai in Anna Nagar here in November 1999 and the State government had established similar sandhais in all major districts and towns. Depending on the need, more than even two sandhais functioned in some districts, the officer said.

The growing popularity among the public had not only made the government open 50 more new sandhais during 2009-10 but also extend value added services, such as cold storage facility in 22 sandhais and electronic weighing machines, he added. Agricultural marketing officers in Madurai said that the sandhais at Anna Nagar and Chokkikulam were flooded with fresh vegetables every day.