Chennai

Veggies come straight from farms on Chennai’s outskirts

Marginal farmers depend heavily on the vegetables and greens they produce to tide through the lockdown; they head to neighbourhoods within a 10-km radius and sell the produce

There is an addition to S. Maruthu’s workaday duties: An early morning cycle trip to his farmland in Pakkam near Thirnindravur where vegetables and greens wait to be plucked and carried to expectant neighbourhoods nearby, which include Pattabiram, Thamarapakkam, Muthapudhupet, Veerapuram, Kamaraj Nagar and Annanoor.

The 52-year-old marginal farmer gathers and sells the produce to these neighbouhoods — it is a new routine since lockdown was put in place, and this “morning job” helps him and his family through the lockdown.

His regular work is that of a nurturer, tending to his paddy fields, with the routine including irrigating the fields and freeing them of tares.

On the outskirts of Chennai, marginal farmers like Maruthu now depend heavily on the vegetables and greens they grow in their farmland, though paddy is the main crop, to find some earnings during the lockdown period. They sell their produce directly to residents, avoiding middlemen.

V. Karuppan, a farmer in Melkondiyur village near Red Hills, says the vegetables grown in his agriculture land constitute a lifeline in these difficult times.

Vegetables like brinjals, lady’s finger, tomatoes, green chillies, cabbage and pumpkins are commonly grown in many villages on the city outskirts. Framers grow vegetables on parcel of land alongside their paddy fields, and some of them would do so just for their kitchen or to give to their neighbours free as a goodwill gesture.

Seasonal fruits like watermelons, bananas and mangoes are also grown especially near Avadi. Jasmine and marigold are common flowers that are widely cultivated between Avadi and Tiruvallur, a distance of around 25 km, due to the presence of many tourist and pilgrim centres.

Paddy cultivation is the main agricultural activity in Tiruvallur district. Paddy fields account for more than 80 per cent of net cultivatable area in Tiruvallur district.

Pulses, oil seeds and sugarcane are also cultivated.

Prior to the lockdown, farmers who were growing vegetables for the market would sell the produce to retail traders at common markets in Avadi, Thiruverukadu, Villivakkam, Pattabiram, Thirunindravur and also Koyambedu.

Due to restrictions during the lockdown, these farmers also sell their produce directly to residents of neighburhoods found within a 10-km radius.

“We buy mainly greens from farmers, who come in cycles, every day. We let them know what vegetables we need, and the farmers bring these for us the next day,” says B. Vanaja, a resident of Thirunindravur.

Residents point out that visits of such farmers who sell vegetables, are more frequent than those of mini-vans pressed into service by the local bodies to sell vegetables.

Further, the vegetables brought by farmers for residents are also fresh and cheap. In fact, many farmers prefer to sell directly to residents as they get their money immediately and don’t have to wait for hours to receive their payment, which they say is the case when they sell their produce to the local bodies.

“We prefer to sell our vegetables and greens in neighbourhood streets and roads as we can complete our work quickly and return home early,” says K. Amudhan, a farmer from Vadamadurai near Periyapalayam.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 5:47:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/veggies-come-straight-from-farms-on-chennais-outskirts/article31606518.ece

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