Self-help market groups help them sell produce on their own
KOCHI: The self-help market groups formed by farmers under the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK) have worked wonders with the way farmers have tried to realise better prices for their produce. The VFPCK’s initiative was meant both as a tool to expose farmers to the market reality and also to give them an opportunity to sell their produce on their own and the effort has tasted success.
By December last year, 177 farmers’ markets were in operation across the State. Of these, 31 were established between April and December signifying the increasing trust the farmers are placing on these self-help efforts. The extension of the VFPCK activities to Wayanad and Idukki recently has buoyed the vegetable and fruits cultivation in the hill areas.
During the last calendar year, seven markets were opened in Wayanad, three in Kannur, four in Pathanamthitta and seven in Idukki. Many of the 177 markets run by farmers’ SHGs log an annual turnover of over Rs.1 crore even as the Council expects that the total production of vegetables by farmers attached to the programme will touch six lakh tonnes in 2005 thanks largely to the good rain.
During the last financial year, 41,000 tonnes of vegetables worth Rs.40 crores were sold through the farmers’ markets in the State. The volume and value are expected to improve significantly during the current year considering the rising number of markets and better productivity.
The 80,000 farmers under the VFPCK programme have been organised into self-help groups. The total loan extended to these groups between April and December last year stands at Rs.36 crores.