To help the farmers earn some extra money through self-marketing of their produce and in the process eliminate the presence of middlemen, the district agriculture department will setup a 'kisan hut' in the city, where the farmers will directly sell their produce to the consumers.
With the setting-up of this 'kisan hut', Amritsar district will join Patiala and Roopnagar, where such retail outlets are already functioning. While in Patiala city there are three such outlets. One such outlet exists in Roopnagar town.
The agriculture department has been given the green signal for this venture by deputy commissioner (DC) Rajat Aggarwal. This happened after a couple of small and marginal but innovative farmers came forward expressing their desire to market or sell their own produce directly to the consumer.
A trip of the interested farmers was organised to Patiala district by the agriculture department last Thursday, where they saw the working of these retail outlets, which are managed by the farmers themselves. They also interacted with their counterparts of Patiala district and got some valuable tips.
Giving details of the venture, chief agriculture officer (CAO) Dilbagh Singh Dhanju told HT here on Saturday that his department would bear the cost of setting up the 'kisan hut', which will be in the agricultural department complex here in Ranjit Avenue. The design of the hut has been approved by the DC.
Dhanju said that the interested farmers will bring their produce to the hut and will sell it themselves. The items which have been shortlisted for sale for the time being are 'gur', honey, pickles, vegetables and fruits, pulses, oil extracted from self grown mustard, turmeric powder, dairy products and a few other items.
"We have made it clear that the items to be sold should be without chemical sprays and. We have farmers who grow organic sugarcane and from this they produce 'gur', which they can sell in the hut and even cane juice," Dhanju added.
Agriculture development officer (ADO) Gurdip Singh has also mooted the idea of selling 'saag' cooked in earthen pots along with 'makki di roti', in the traditional way. Likewise during the winters, 'kheer' made from rice and sugarcane juice will also be sold at the hut, he added.
"The women folk can cook the 'saag' and 'kheer' at home and themselves come to the hut and sell these," said the ADO while pointing out that the idea has clicked with the farmers.
The department also plans to involve women self-help groups in this scheme.
"In the past, we gave the farmers and the self-help groups a platform to sell their products at the annual PITEX fair and in kisan melas. But now we want to give them a permanent platform," added Dhanju.
If this experiment is successful, then more such huts will be opened in the city and even at the Wagah border. The farmers were keen to have the first hut near the Golden Temple but the idea did not materialise for want of space. Perhaps if the SGPC gives a helping hand, then it could become a reality.