After the opening of two Uzhavar Sandhais (farmers' markets) on the outskirts of Chennai a few days ago, the State Agricultural Marketing and Agri-Business Department is planning to throw open to the public eight more by the month-end.

The farmers' markets in Zamin Pallavaram and Keezhkattalai were opened on Pongal day, according to a senior official. Guduvancheri, Padappai, Kundrathur and Sunguvarchatram, located in and around Chennai, Thirukazhukundram and Lalgudi are among the other places where the markets will be established. Fifteen more markets will be opened in February.

The total number of markets has gone up to 156. On an average, 2,300 tonnes of vegetables and fruits, worth Rs.3.4 crore, are being sold every day. Nearly four lakh people are benefited. Chairing a meeting last week, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi discussed with officials ways to contain price rise and issued a number of directions, including the formal approval to start 25 Uzhavar Sandhais.

As a sequel to the State Cabinet decision in December 2009 on long-term options for tackling price rise, steps are being taken to increase the production and productivity of pulses crops. This is being done broadly under two programmes, Accelerated Pulses Production Programme and the National Agriculture Development Programme.