Kochi/New Delhi: Local governments across several states are procuring fruits and vegetables directly from farms to ease rural distress and provide essential supplies to customers.

In the absence of trading and market auctions, the farmers are finding it difficult to sell their produce, resulting in the piling up of vegetables and fruits at several places.

Kerala government has actively reached out to farmers and consumers and has announced a Rs 20,000 crore relief package, including free distribution of essentials to the people.

“We are using Rs 20 crore kept for the market intervention programme for festivals to procure vegetables and fruits from the farmers directly in all panchayats. Since they can’t sell their produce in the open market, they have responded well to our programme,’’ state agriculture minister V S Sunil Kumar said.

In addition, Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation has started distribution of free kits comprising 17 essentials including pulses, oil, sugar and tea, to around 8.7 million ration card holders in the state.

In Maharashtra, the government has involved 3,000 farmer’s producers organisations (FPOs) to home deliver 20,000 quintal of fruits and vegetables to consumers, said Eknath Dawale, agriculture secretary of Maharashtra.

Dawale said the government is daily increasing the number of FPOs and asking housing cooperative societies to simultaneously be proactive while also keeping a check on prices.

“In Uttar Pradesh, 400 FPOs will be issued e-passes by district magistrates to procure directly from farmers and sell to consumers,” said Devesh Chaturvedi, principal secretary, agriculture, Uttar Pradesh. This will ensure that farmers get buyers at farm-level and they don’t need to come to mandis to sell, he said. “Our effort is to ensure that farmers are able to sell their agriculture produce and that consumers get it. The numbers will increase in the coming days, as district officials expand the coverage,” he said

Further, 42,000 vendors have been approved in Uttar Pradesh to home deliver fruits and vegetable, said Chaturvedi. These vendors are buying from mandis, he said.

Similarly in Madhya Pradesh, the horticulture department is facilitating farmers and traders to sell vegetables to consumers, said government officials. In Betul district of the state, farmers have directly sold 120,000 tonnes of vegetables to consumers with government fixing a maximum rate, said Asha Upwanshi, deputy director horticulture, Betul.

Authorities in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh have also reached out directly to farmers to make sure they are able to sell their produce.

(With inputs from Prashant Krar in Chandigarh)

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