Thiruvananthapuram: Middlemen operating in the vegetable markets in Tamil Nadu are scuttling the attempts by the Kerala Government to directly procure vegetables from Tamil Nadu as part of its efforts to curb their rising prices.
The middlemen are raising a false bogey that the direct procurement by the Kerala Government would lead to vegetable shortage in Tamil Nadu. Following this development, there is now a substantial reduction in the arrival of vegetables from Tamil Nadu to the State.
However, the farmers there have mooted the idea that they are ready to supply vegetables in large quantity if Kerala is willing to enter into an agreement with the Tamil Nadu Government and set up a procurement centre at Tenkasi.
Kerala-TN pact on vegetable procurement
The States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are likely to enter into an agreement on vegetable procurement next week. Tamil Nadu wanted the Kerala Government to prepare the draft agreement and send it to them.
Horticorp Managing Director Sajeev told the media that the draft agreement had been sent to Tamil Nadu on Sunday.
It was from November 25 that Kerala started procuring vegetables directly from Tamil Nadu. In the beginning, 80 tonnes of vegetables were procured from Tamil Nadu.
Later, it got reduced to 40 tonnes of vegetables. But in the last few days, the quantity of procurement came down substantially. The reason for such a decline in procurement was said to be the handiwork of the middlemen, who received a jolt after the introduction of the direct procurement system.
In usual vegetable trade, middlemen pocket huge commission by fleecing both the wholesale traders from Kerala and the farmers from Tamil Nadu. They started created panic among the public and farmers that the direct procurement of vegetables by the Kerala Government in huge quantity would lead to shortage of vegetables in Tamil Nadu.
The Kerala Government had to confront another peculiar scenario in which the price of vegetables remained high even after the government procured vegetables and made it available in Kerala markets in large quantity. The traders are pointing out that there is a shortage of vegetables being felt in various markets in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
'Procurement to continue even if it is at a loss'
Meanwhile, Kerala Agriculture Minister P Prasad has said that the State Government would not mind suffering losses in the procurement process in order to control the price of vegetables. The Horticorp and the Vegetables and Fruit Promotion Council of Kerala (VFPCK) have been entrusted with the procurement drive.
The Horticorp would directly procure vegetables from Tamil Nadu. The VFPCK would procure vegetables cultivated through organic farming.
Apart from ensuring reasonable price for vegetables, the government would also strive to achieve self-sufficiency in vegetable production.
The Minister said that the government had given instructions to the officials to distribute vegetable seeds and seedlings to all those who asked for it.