Farmers’ markets see less than usual patronage

Security personnel at entrance, sanitiser dispensers, alternate selling counters and fewer than usual customers were the sight at the R.S. Puram farmers’ market (Uzhavar Sandhai) on Sunday morning.

The market and others in Singanallur, Vadavalli and Sundarapuram in the city reopened on July 1 after the State Government issued orders while relaxing COVID-19 lockdown restriction. Two days ahead of reopening the district administration had issued detailed guidelines on the COVID-19 safety protocol to be followed to prevent the infection spread.

The administration had said that only 50% farmers would be allowed on a day and the rest the next day and they would have to alternately turn up to sell their produce. Since the markets reopened, the farmers hoped that the sales would pick up over the weekend as they expected the customers to not turn up as usual in the first few days.

But the weekend turned out to be a huge disappointment as the markets witnessed less than the usual sales.

Agriculture Marketing Department officials said the R.S. Market saw sale of around 65 tonnes vegetables on weekdays and an additional 10 tonnes on weekends. But on Saturday and Sunday, the sale was less than half the usual quantity sold.

One of the reasons for the poor sales, the officials said, was only 50% farmers turning up on a given day. As a result, the customers did not get all the vegetables and fruits they hoped to buy.

N. Mohandass of Kanuvai said he could not find all the vegetables he was looking for. A customer from R.S. Puram, who wished not to be named ,said he went with a list of 10-12 vegetables but managed to find only eight.

The Singanallur market, too, saw less than the normal sale but it was not very low. The officials said the market did better than the others in the city because a majority of the customers who went there were grocery store owners and vegetable sellers who bought in bulk.

The other reason for the poor sales over the weekend was not many farmers turning up because of the absence of public transport. With the Government not permitting buses, the farmers did not get to avail of the free bus service to transport their produce.

As they were left to rely on their vehicles many chose not to spend on fuel to reach the market and only those in the city’s periphery turned up, the officials said.

Farmer A. Ram Ganesh of Alandurai said using his vehicle to reach the R.S. Puram market to sell greens had eroded his profit margin. If the Government were to resume bus service, he could make profit.

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