Batch of 20 farmers each have formed 250 clusters under Chennai Peri-Metro Vegetable Cluster Development programme

About 5,000 farmers in the neighbouring districts have agreed to supply vegetables and greens to farm fresh outlets in the city on priority basis from September onwards.

So far, a batch of 20 farmers each had formed 250 clusters under the Chennai Peri-Metro Vegetable Cluster Development programme, which is a component of the National Agricultural Development Programme.

A sum of Rs. 17 crore has been sanctioned. These farmers will have access to bank-linked subsidised loan for purchase of equipment and vehicles.

19 collection centres

As a recent development, 19 collection centres have been formed in Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai districts to enable the farmers to send in their produce, which in turn would be collected by cooperative societies.

The vegetables and greens will be transported to 29 farm fresh vegetable outlets in the city, where it will be sorted, graded and packed. The farmers will get the procurement price on the same day.

Commissioner of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, Satyabrata Sahoo, who interacted with the farmers in these districts in the last few days, said the agriculturists were free to sell their produce to the farm fresh outlets or the Koyambedu vegetable market or the cooperative societies.

The farmers said their preference was to supply the produce to the farm fresh outlets.

Replicating

Following the formation of clusters for Chennai, the Horticulture Department will move to Coimbatore to replicate this model. It will cover farmers of Coimbatore, Udhagamandalam, Tiruppur and Erode districts.

The Horticulture Department also planned to open 50 farm fresh outlets additionally in the city. But, the progress had been slow due to non-availability of “aggregators,” meaning those running the entire supply chain management to keep the vegetables fresh as per the guidelines of small farmer agri-business consortium.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Sahoo said: “We thought we can make a beginning by joining hands with the Cooperative Department. The farmers are supportive as they came to know about the collective bargaining power and high returns. The farmers will start supplying vegetables in the morning and greens in the evening. In a way, the Horticulture Department will kick start its programme in a month or two.”

Mentioning that the sales of farm fresh vegetable outlets in the city since its launch on June 20 was Rs. 2.75 crore, Registrar of Cooperative Societies P. Seetharaman said a sum of Rs. 25 crore had been sanctioned as crop loans to those farmers for cultivating vegetables in Krishnagiri, Udhagamandalam and Dindigul districts.