Farm to fork: Farmer’s distress call turns into direct-selling of produce in Mohali’s housing societies
Farmers able to sell fruits and vegetables at rates higher than those in wholesale market, while residents have access to fresh produce at prices lower than retail ratesUpdated: May 01, 2020 02:52 IST
What began as a response to a distress call made by a kinnow grower in Abohar, looking for a market to sell the fruit amid the curfew, has now turned into a pilot project to aid direct selling of farmers’ produce in different housing societies of the district.
The project called “Farm to fork” — an initiative of the residents’ welfare association of Jal Vayu Towers, Kharar, and two horticulture development officers living there — has not only helped around 800 families get a regular supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, but also helped farmers create new markets through direct selling.
Under this community supported agriculture (CSA) model, horticultural crops like fruits and vegetables that are perishable in nature are sold at fair rates directly to the consumer. The prices are higher than the mandi rates (wholesale rate) for the farmer and lower for the consumer than the retail rates.
The system has been running successfully for three weeks in the Jal Vayu Towers. “Due to the curfew, the supply of kinnow fruit was hindered, so our farmer friend from Abohar called to find out the demand for kinnow in Chandigarh or other nearby mandis. But at the time, the mandis were almost closed, so we thought of setting up an arrangement in our society,” said Yuvraj, horticulture development officer, Nurpur Bedi, Rupnagar.
The demand was generated through the society’s WhatsApp groups. “As the farmers of Nurpur Bedi block of Rupnagar were in touch with us, they were persuaded to supply fruits/vegetables. Some farmers joined us and started supplying fresh strawberries, muskmelons, watermelons, brinjals, okra (bhindi), and cauliflower.”
“Seven to eight farmers are currently supplying produce in our locality. They are getting profit directly without sharing it with any middleman, and residents are getting fresh produce at a reasonable rate,” said Bharat Bhushan, horticulture development officer, Majra in Mohali.
“During the curfew when people are not permitted to step out of their houses, these two employees of Punjab horticulture department have tied up with farmers to bring their produce to the society complex and sell at very reasonable rates,” said Vijay Kumar, vice-president, RWA, Jal Vayu Towers, Kharar.
“The rate list as well as prior intimation is given through WhatsApp,” said RS Pannu, retired wing commander and a resident.
MODEL TO BE REPLICATED
The Punjab horticulture department is now looking to replicate the model.
Shailender Kaur, director horticulture, said, “A pilot project facilitated the farmers to sell their produce. We are looking at replicating this in different housing societies in Mohali and Kharar.”
She added that talks were on with different farmers to encourage them to sell their produce in groups, so that one farmer collected different fruits/vegetables from different farmers and sold them to lower the transportation costs.