Minister for Agriculture K.P. Mohanan on Thursday inaugurated an open auction system and a cold storage unit at the agricultural wholesale unit at Anayara.

Agriculture produce from the cluster of farmers from Kazhakuttam, Neyyattinkara, and Pallichal will be brought here for auction. To provide direct marketing facilities for farmers and ensure proper handling of produces, six wholesale markets had been opened in the State, with two units in the district.

This included a rural wholesale market at Nedumanagad and an urban wholesale market at Anayara.

Under the scheme, produces of a cluster of farmers from a specific area are procured under the supervision of a convener appointed by the government. To ensure fair price for farmers, an expert committee has been formed to decide on the market price for auctioning off the goods.

The committee includes experts from the marketing division, State Horticultural Products Development Corporation (Horticorp), and farmers' representatives.

Speaking to The Hindu , Marketing Director of the Department of Agriculture Ajith Kumar said financial assistance for transporting and marketing were being provided by the government to encourage farmers. The farmers were provided seed money at the time of procurement. To prevent exploitation by traders during auction, excess produce was sold through Horticorp, which helped in marketing farm produce through its outlets.

“Even when production is high, farmers do not receive good profit because of high transportation cost and poor marketing facilities. Through such a scheme, there is direct interaction between the farmers and traders. The aim is to improve the markets in the State so that we do not have to depend on other States,” says Premnath, Managing Director, Horticorp.

The cold storage has six units which can store up to 10 tonnes. The units can be used to store vegetables procured by Horticorp and will be given on lease to store products of the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council, Keralam (VFPCK) for export.

To provide quality products, Agmark laboratories have also been set up at the unit. Agmark laboratories, under the Department of Agriculture, are units that certify the quality of food products.