The main vegetable market at Koviloor in Vattavada is abuzz with activity. Traders are busy bargaining the prices for buying vegetables from farmers of Vattavada. However, the farmers are not as enthusiastic as the traders here. Even after the harvest they are not a happy lot. Adverse weather conditions including heavy rain have forced them to give up the calculations of a profitable business this year.
Though there is a marked improvement in the arrivals for Onam season, the prices of vegetables are fluctuating everyday leaving the farmers confused. There is no minimum price fixed for the vegetables. P.Palanivel, a farmer, said the quantity of arrivals often determined the prices here. “Traders from Tamil Nadu decide the prices here, often forming a cartel,” he added.
“When truckloads of a particular vegetable item reaches the market, the traders usually lower the prices as its demand drops,” said G. Mohanadas, vice-president of the Vattavada grama panchayat. The farmers cultivate the crop that fetches the maximum price without realising that the prices would go down with the heavy arrivals, he added. This happened in the case of garlic last year.
Traders from Tamil Nadu and the Horticorp directly buy vegetables from farmers here. “The prices are not bad compared to the last season. However, there is a considerable drop in the tota production,” said Vasudevan, a farmer. Summer rains had damaged crops in nearly 200 acres of land. Water-logged farms had only decayed vegetables.
“During this season, we could not apply fertilisers in time due to heavy rains,”said M. N. Palaniswami, a farmer.
Mr. Mohanadas said the marketing intervention by the Horticorp helped in providing reasonable prices to the farmers. The major chunk of the production goes to the main market of Madurai where the produces from here have to compete with better-shaped and large-sized vegetables arriving from other States. The small-sized garlic and traditionally cultivated tubers are of better quality with least application of chemical pesticides. But the farmers are finding it difficult to get competitive prices at the main market in Madurai.
“If the Horticorp directly procure all the vegetables grown here and marketed in the State, it would be of immense help to both the farmers and the consumers, Mr. Mohanadas said.