Farmers' markets in Mumbai in peril?

The state government's ambitious yet commendable scheme to start farmers' markets in Mumbai appears to have run into rough weather.

The weekly vegetable market (Athavade bazar) concept was aimed to bring ease of operations and more profits to the farmers by providing them a direct platform for sales, wherein they could sell their produce directly to the customers without any interference of agents. The markets were set up in September 2016, following a consistent demand from urban consumer groups, and the success of the first one set up near Vidhan Bhavan, Mumbai. Several farmer groups and farmer producer companies participated enthusiastically in the scheme initially.

While the initial response from citizens was good, since customers could buy fresh vegetables and that too in cheap rates, the numbers of customers is now seen to be going down and fewer people go to the weekly vegetable market, resulting in a loss to farmers. The consequence - rotting vegetables at these markets with the paucity of customers.

While the weekly vegetable market in Worli is still operational, many others have since closed down. The Worli market too is not attracting many customers, say the farmers. 

The Shri Sant Shiromani Farmers Weekly Market is also on the verge of closing down, we hear. Of the 92 farmers' markets started by the state, 23 are located in Mumbai alone.  Barring a few - near the Vidhan Bhavan and the one in Worli, most are running in losses.

According to Dheeraj Tethe, a farmer who has been bringing his produce to the market for three weeks, the lack of demand has been resulting in produce rotting. "We have been selling off the vegetables at half prices to hotels here rather than take the produce back home," he told Mumbai Live.

Poor marketing strategies by the state government, lack of awareness among the population are being cited as reasons why the vegetable markets are dwindling. Another well-intended scheme goes for a toss?


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