Buoyed by the response from a first-of-its-kind weekly farmers’ market at Vidhan Bhavan in Nariman Point on Sunday, the state’s agricultural marketing board plans to roll out 100 such direct markets across Thane and Mumbai.
The state government also proposes to organise the market twice a week — on Sunday and a week day — at the same location.The week-day market aims to cater to office-goers.
The farmers’ market, also known as the direct market, is a win-win situation for both end-consumers and producers as it eliminates the role of traders, commission agents, wholesalers and retailers from the supply chain. Besides price relief for consumers, farmers get better market price for their farm-fresh, organic vegetables and fruits. Around 2,000 consumers from Colaba, Cuff parade and Fort visited the first direct market in the city organised at the Vidhan Bhavan parking area. The market was inaugurated by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who bought vegetables from the stalls.
“By September end, we aim to start 100 direct markets in Mumbai and Thane. We are in discussion with the municipal commissioners of Thane and Mumbai to identify the locations for markets,” said Sadabhau Khot, minister of state for agriculture, horticulture and marketing.
The weekly market was a long-pending demand of urban consumer groups. Consumer groups welcomed the move, but insisted that the prices should be reasonable as they are buying directly from farmers.
“Any move to cut down supply chain is welcome, but the monetary benefit of truncated supply chain should be passed on to the consumers too. We are discussing marketing and financial model with some farmer groups and Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP) will soon organise similar markets in the city,” said Shirish Deshpande, chairman of MGP.
Consumers who visited the market appreciated the superior quality of vegetables and fruits and stressed that such direct centres should be set up regularly in different parts of the city. “Weekly farmers’ markets are practised all over the world, including Europe and the United States. This trend should catch up in the country in the interest of both farmers and consumers,” said Ramesh Bajoria, 58, a Cuff Parade resident.
Around 50 farmer groups and farmer-producer companies, including 10 tribal farmers, participated in the market where 30 tonnes of vegetables was sold on the first day. Even farmer-producer companies admitted that they have received good response and earned more profit than what they make by selling the produce to traders.
“Generally, we earn Rs100-200 per day by selling vegetables on highways or to traders, but here we have earned Rs500 and many people were also curious about vegetables produced by tribals. We hope better response in the next week,” said Usha Waghmare, a member of Shramik Kranti Sanghatana.