Owing to the poor response of housing societies, coupled with the lack of feasibility to run a weekly farmers market selling vegetables, the marketing department of the state government has decided to tap into its own spaces to set up selling points. The government aims to start about 100 weekly markets in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai by December.
After permitting farmers to sell their produce directly to the retailers and consumers by amending the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees Act in July, the government has started putting in extra effort to help the farmers’ produce reach consumers. After three weekly markets become operational at Vidhan Bhavan, Hutatma Chowk and Worli Dairy, the government has given permission for six more in Mumbai, seven in Navi Mumbai and 17 in Thane.
The state government’s plan to open more similar markets in societies could not take off due to the poor response. “The societies did not come forward to give us space, probably fearing that it would be occupied permanently. However, we are now trying to convince the societies that the markets will be set up only 3-4 hours a week. There is no question of permanent occupation. I am holding a meeting with the societies on Monday to convince them to participate,” Sadabhau Khot, minister of state for agriculture and marketing told HT.
An official from the marketing department said setting up the outlets at societies which have less than 300 flats is not feasible.
The government will utilise government spaces and offices in residential areas. “Government offices such as Tardeo RTO, the MHADA office in Bandra, World Trade Centre in Cuffe Parade may host weekly markets in phases. Similar offices are being identified to sell produce Sundays when the offices are closed. We are seeking permission from the authorities,” said an official from the marketing department.
The minister said the initiative has changed the scenario regarding retail marketing of vegetables in big cities including Mumbai and Thane. “More than 800 production companies have been formed by the farmers to sell their produce directly to retailers or consumers. The companies or groups formed by them participate in direct selling in the market. To my knowledge, 60% of Mumbai’s demand is now fulfilled by such groups. This has helped us manage the retail rates of vegetables,” said Khot.
To government has also received 27 proposals in Mumbai, seven in Navi Mumbai and 16 in Thane to start such weekly markets. “To create fair competition and ensure good prices for the farm produce, we gave 125 new licences to direct marketing companies in the past few months,taking the total licences to 265. Multinational companies also hold such licences. This has helped us even the playing field in terms of marketing agri-produce,” said Sunil Porwal, additional chief secretary, marketing department.