Till yesterday a group of 21 women self-help groups in Avalur and Oothukaadu hamlets near Wallajahbad were producers of horticultural products. From Friday, they have taken up direct sales of a portion of their harvest in Kancheepuram town.

While greens are raised on about 30 acres at Oothukaadu by 15 SHGs, others are engaged in cultivation of vegetables such as radish, brinjal, tomato on about 20 acres at Avalur.

Till now, harvested products were sent to vegetable markets in Chennai by vans owned by middlemen, who collected the produce from their doorstep. They were content with the price offered by the middlemen, but were not rewarded for their hard work. In fact, they did not even get the wholesale price that prevailed at the markets, officials in Rural Development Department said. Further, the quantum of procurement would not be the same on all days as it was directly linked to the previous day’s stock and public consumption pattern at the market.

During such occasions, cultivators were left with no option but to dispose of their produce by putting up their own shops in nearby towns and villages or wait for one or two days to dispose of the produce through middlemen for a low price, officials said.

After a federation was formed by grouping all 21 SHGs, it was decided to encourage them to take up direct sales of a portion of their daily harvest in Kancheepuram town, said Krishnammal, project director, Mahalir Thittam.

A mini-van, which was at the disposal of the department, has been allotted to the SHGs free of cost and Rs. 2 lakh given as a revolving fund towards operation and maintenance of the van for the next six months, she said. Beneficiaries would have to build a corpus fund sufficient enough to take care of the operation and maintenance of the van afterwards, she added.

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