Coronavirus fears have impacted the weekly farmers’ markets in Pune and Mumbai where footfall has reduced drastically. Officials of the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) said the markets will continue to function so as to not hamper the supply of essential vegetables.
Tushar Agarwal, director of Swami Samarath Farmers Producers Company (FPC), which organises 24 weekly markets in Pune and Mumbai, said there has been a drastic drop in footfall in the markets in these two cities. “The daily footfall of 20,000-25,000 has dropped to just 4,000-5,000 people,” he said. As a consequence, farmers have started bringing fewer produce to the markets, Agarwal added. The number of farmers’ stalls has also dropped from 50-60 earlier to 10-12, he said.
Agarwal’s FPC deals with at least 3,500 farmers who bring their produce daily to the markets.
There are 110 weekly farmers’ markets in 12 cities across Maharashtra, which allow farmers to sell directly to consumers at designated spots. The local civic bodies here are expected to provide space to these markets while the MSAMB facilitates the farmers or Farmers Producers Companies to organise them.
Organisers say they have started implementing the recommended hygiene measures and precautions in their markets. A move to encourage farmers to cover their mouth did not prove popular, said Agarwal. “Now we have asked them wash their hands every 30 minutes and use hand sanitisers,” he added.
The organisers of most markets have been issued advisories on the hygiene measures they should follow.
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