TAMIL NADU

At last, shops open at Kallikudi market

A vegetable shop that opened at Kallikudi market in Tiruchi on Wednesday.M. Srinath

A vegetable shop that opened at Kallikudi market in Tiruchi on Wednesday.M. Srinath  

A handful of farmers’ groups took baby steps towards entering the retail market by setting up shop at the Central Market for Vegetables, Fruits and Flowers at Kallikudi on the outskirts of the city on Wednesday.

The market, established on 9.79 acres with 830 shops and formally opened in September 2017, was originally intended to accommodate wholesale traders of the famous Gandhi Market in Tiruchi. However, with the wholesale traders resisting the move to shift them to the new venue, the complex built at a cost of Rs. 77 crore with NABARD funding lay in disuse.

Following a stalemate, the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business decided to allot some of the shops in the complex to Farmers Interest Groups (FIGs), Farmers Producers Groups (FPGs) and Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs) so as to provide them a marketing outlet.

The District Market Committee, functioning under the department, allotted 104 shops to 52 FIGs, FPGs and FPOs. Each group was allotted two shops at nominal rent. The shops were allotted only to active groups and the allotment was done by a district-level selection committee, sources in the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Agri Business said.

On Wednesday, some of the FIGs, FPGs and FPOs opened their shops by bringing in farm produce procured from their members. Although some of the groups were already into retail business, this is the first time that many of them were entering direct retail sales by opening shops at a market. Some of the groups brought in vegetables and fruits and a few others value-added products.

The Tamil Nadu Banana Growers Farmers Producers Company in Namakkal district and WEFSA Farmers Producers Company of Perambalur were among those to set up shop.

Though business was dull on the first day in the absence of “adequate publicity and absence of bus services,” the groups expressed confidence that they would succeed in their venture in the long run once the market became fully functional.

“We brought in vegetables such as onions, brinjal and snake gourds in small quantities. But not many customers came in today as people are not aware of the market becoming functional. Our members had to take back their produce but we hope the situation will improve with better publicity and resumption of public transport,” said A. Arockiasamy, president, Manikandam-B FPG, which has farmers from Navalarkuttapattu, Thayanur and Punganur villages in Tiruchi as members.

A. Subramanian, treasurer, Tamil Nadu Banana Growers Farmers Producers Company, which had brought in bananas and banana figs for sale, said sales could pick up in the long run once the market became fully functional.

“We hear that the shops are in good demand from traders at the market,” he said.

“We are confident that with public support, we can succeed in our venture. Public can get quality produce at cheaper rate at our shops here,” said M. Thangavel, president, Manikandam-A FPG.

Although only a few of its members had brought in vegetables such as ladies finger and brinjal, more were planning to bring their produce in the days to come, he added.

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