IRDP Onam trade fair begins

KOCHI, AUG. 21. The Fisheries Minister, K.V. Thomas, today inaugurated the IRDP/SGYC Onam trade fair organised by the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) at the Ernakulathappan grounds here.

The District panchayat president, K. B. Muhammedkutty, presided over the function, with Dominic Presentation, K. Babu, MLAs, the Block panchayat presidents' association president, P. K. Joseph, the DRDA project officer, A. Mohanakumar, and the Nabard assistant general manager, Venkit Subramanian, speaking on the occasion.

37 stalls opened

A total number of 37 stalls have already been opened in the exhibition grounds, with additional stalls being opened outdoors. Ernakulam, Idukki, Alappuzha, Palakkad and Thrissur districts are participating in the show. While all 15 blocks from Ernakulam district and eight from Idukki district are participating, the Alappuzha, Thrissur and Palakkad districts are having only representative participation, according to Abdul Nasser, Rural Industries Officer.

Mr. Nasser said that the DRDA was expecting a total sales of Rs. 50 lakhs this year against total sales of Rs. 17 lakhs last year. Sales up to even Rs. 46 lakhs had been achieved earlier when the fair was conducted in the SRV High School, he said.

The products brought by the women's self-help groups and cooperative societies in the blocks include food products, wood and cane furniture, handicraft items using a wide variety of materials including coconut shell, coconut wood, cloth and paper. The Koovappady, Vazhakkulam, Pambakkuda, Angamaly and Paravur blocks have brought in an array of wooden furniture.

Pokkali rice

The Pokkali rice marketed by the Palliakkal Farmers Cooperative Society in Paravur block was a major attraction at the fair. It was available for Rs. 17 per kg. The Palliakkal Cooperative Society had been involved in procuring and marketing the indigenous organic rice for the past couple of years. They also market pokkali avil and pokkali bran also.

The products of ramacham from Pambakkuda near Muvattupuzha are another attraction. The ramacham bought from Rajakkad in Idukki district was treated before making beds, pillows and mats. The double cot ramacham bed costs Rs. 1,250, while the single cot is priced at Rs. 900 and the pillow is worth Rs. 250.

The Parakkadavu block near Angamaly has brought traditional Kalari Marmani Thailam which had been highly popular during the previous years.

Canvas gloves

Canvas gloves made by a group of women are also being exhibited though the item is not for sale. Coconut shell handicraft items made by K. P. Suresh, an expert craftsman from Vypeen, are also being exhibited.

The Kothamangalam block has brought spices such as pepper and dried ginger as well as dolls, lampshades and other objects made from leftover cane. A cane peacock is priced at Rs. 450. Ayurvedic herbs like njerinjil, multtanmitti, naruneendi, karkkolari and many others are being displayed by the Muvattupuzha block.

The Alangadu block has brought Swadeshi soap made by the self-help groups, in 10 flavours such as thulasi, ramacham and neem.

The fair will continue till August 26, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.