Residents of Mayur Vihar, a cooperative housing society in Pimple Gurav area of Pimpri Chinchwad, have changed the way they shop for vegetables since the last month. Instead of trips to the nearby Kasarwadi vegetable market, a farmers’ group from Junnar has made it a point to come to the society premises with their produce between 8-10 am thrice a week. Once the vehicle arrives, residents make a beeline for the temporary shop created and buy their needs.
Surekha Bhosale, a local resident, says this not only has helped them procure fresh vegetables, but it is also cheaper compared to the local market. “Our society had decided to allow the farmers’ group to sell directly within the premises. Initially, it was a for a period of 15 days, but the good response has made the group continue coming to the society,”she says.
Following the state’s decision to delist fruits and vegetables from the Agricultural Market Produce Committee (APMC), farmer groups have been encouraged to explore alternate sources to directly reach the consumers. Direct selling to housing societies, weekly farmer bazaars and direct supply to retailers are the three modes now being adopted by the farmer groups and farmer-producer companies (FPOs) to bypass the APMCs and establish parallel channels for business.
Shriram Gadhwe, president of the Vegetables Growers Association of India (VGAI), says around 100 FPOs and farmer groups have already started their business following one of the above three channels.
Gadhwe says many groups contacted housing societies in Mumbai and Pune and worked out a mechanism to directly sell their produce within the society premises. Gadhwe’s own group had identified a number of societies in Mulund and Dombivili areas of Mumbai and started directly supplying vegetables there. “Many of the neighbouring societies approached us subsequently and asked us to similarly supply vegetables to them,” he says.
In Mumbai and Thane, around 40-50 housing societies have already tied up farmer groups for such direct supply of vegetables. In Pune also, a similar number of societies have tied up with farmer groups. In Pune, 5-6 years ago, a large number of farmer groups had similarly tied up with housing societies for direct selling of their fruits and vegetables, but the model failed to scale up. Gadhwe says the present legal sanction given to the process will help groups sustain their business in the long run.
Weekly bazaars is a flagship programme run by the state government which allows farmer groups to congregate at a fixed place and sell their produce, which includes perishable goods (fruits and vegetables) as well as non-perishable goods (grains, processed fruits). In Pune, such markets are being held at 40 places and plans are afoot to start similar markets in Mumbai also. “The Chief Minister had officially inaugurated the market at Vidhan Sabha and we are finalising a place in Worli to hold another market,” Gadhwe says.
Farmer groups have also started directly supplying to smaller retailers bypassing the commission agents and traders. Smaller traders procure their supply from the retailers who in turn have traditionally being purchasing from the bigger traders and commission agents of the wholesale markets.
According to Gadhwe, farmers are directly supplying 40-50 metric tonnes of vegetables on an average to retailers on a daily basis.