Fear of price spiral in the wake of lorry stir in Tamil Nadu

The Department of Agriculture will launch a Rs.two-crore market intervention programme early next month to prevent a vegetable price spiral in the wake of an indefinite lorry strike in Tamil Nadu.

A senior official of the department told The Hindu on Tuesday that more than 300 Onam-special vegetable stalls would be opened by the Kerala State Horticultural Mission (KSHM); Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council, Keralam (VFPCK); and the Kerala State Horticulture Products Development Corporation (Horticorp) from September 4.

These stalls, under an umbrella brand ‘Onakkazhcha,' would sell vegetables and bananas (mostly ‘nendran') at discounts ranging between 10 and 30 per cent compared to the open market.

The department would procure over 50 per cent of the vegetables from within the State, as part of a multi-pronged strategy to spread vegetable cultivation to all household. As of now, more than 500 schools in the State had been identified for taking up vegetable cultivation, the official said.

Horticorp Managing Director K. Premnath said the corporation would open 151 markets for Onam. The number was 131 last year. The Corporation expected a turnover of around Rs.two crore and a sale of around 750 tons of vegetables. Horticorp would also work with residents' associations and non-governmental organisations to market vegetables at subsidised rates.

Sources in VFPCK said the council expected to cater to around 75,000 buyers through the 100 special stalls. The council targeted to sell 500 tons of vegetables worth around Rs.1.5 crore.

Reports indicated a dip in banana production in Ernakulam district due to excess rain. A fall in the production of ‘nendran' would mean higher cost for the Onam favourite.