Telangana’s novel approach eases supply of vegetables, fruits

The holistic and humane approach suggested by KCR is bringing dividends in times of social distancing

By Author  |  Published: 2nd Apr 2020  10:46 pm
vegetables
Rythu Bazars under the GHMC jurisdiction cater to over 20 lakh households, with most vegetables being handled at Bowenpally and Guddi Malkapur markets. — Photo: Surya Sridhar

Hyderabad: Supplying 29,000 quintals of vegetables to 20 lakh households, that too during Covid 19 induced lockdown, is a daunting task. But the departments of agriculture, marketing and horticulture has overcome the problem with the guidance of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. The approach he suggested was holistic and humane, which has worked wonders, even as vehicular movement was restricted and social distancing was the order of the day.

Responding to the Chief Minister’s call, the Agriculture department led by senior officers and a team of estate officers, farmers, agriculture officers, vehicle drivers, assistants, hamalis in the markets have responded to meet the needs of the people. The task at hand was managing 18 clusters, 15 market yards, 43 Rythu Bazars across the State and transporting, distributing vegetables. The 12 Rythu Bazars under the GHMC jurisdiction cater to over 20 lakh households, with most vegetables being handled at Bowenpally and Guddi Malkapur markets. The two markets have ensured sufficient supplies, quality products and reasonable prices.

The strategy

To maintain social distancing in market places, a strategy to use Mobile Rythu Bazars combined with extending existing Rythu Bazars and markets to open places and adjacent roads was implemented to check overcrowding. It also encouraged the people to stay at home rather than crowding the markets and reducing the pressure at the market places. The ‘Tsunami model’ of outreach using the Mobile Rythu Bazars has shown encouraging results on the ground.

The department ensured that the farmers could transport their produce to the markets and gave assurance of safe passage, with the help of the police department. On arrival of the vegetable stocks at the Rythu Bazars, the Mobile Rythu Bazars were pressed into service to reach out to every nook and corner of the city. The Mobile Rythu Bazars are a classic illustration of the government endeavour to enable people stay at home, thereby contributing to restricting the number of coronavirus cases.

Mobile Rytu Bazars

About 200 Mobile Rythu Bazars deployed on various routes using GIS technology are reaching out to over 500 locations every day and 3,500 locations every week. With Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), spread over 625 square km, the Mobile Rythu Bazars are able to reach out across the 150 wards. Ward level corporators are also showing special interest in planning the locations in their respective wards as the vegetables and fruits supplied are fresh and reasonably priced.

The doorstep delivery of vegetables and fruits by the Mobile Rythu Bazars has come as a boon to the 20 lakh households of the twin cities, who otherwise would have crowded the Rythu Bazar markets. Mobile Rythu Bazars and restoration of the weekly “Santha” in some places have ensured thinning of crowds and maintaining social distance norms as prescribed by the health authorities.

Convergence

The Mobile Rythu Bazar drive has brought to fore the advantages of management by convergence. It was the coming together of the Department of Agriculture, Marketing, Horticulture, Police, GHMC, Postal department and using the network of Resident Welfare Associations, which ensured removal of bottlenecks and speedy delivery on ground. The Police department ensured safe passage for vehicles, volunteered to provide dedicated large vehicles with drivers, GHMC (Urban Community Development) wing provided community organizers and volunteers from RWAs ensured coordination.

Beginning with the regular routes, the tempo is proposed to be increased for Mobile Rythu Bazars reaching out to over 1,000 locations on various routes. Vehicles of Postal department are also planned to be deployed on new routes to cover the gaps.

Record quantity handled

Telangana farmers took to cultivation of vegetables as per the advice of the Chief Minister some time ago, leaving the traditional cultivation of cereals and millets. The result is that a cumulative quantity of 7,00,680 quintals of vegetables were handled in the month of March. A wide variety ranging from tomatoes to leafy vegetables are reaching the markets in sufficient quantities and the quantity of carrots and green chillis too has increased substantially.

However, potatoes have reduced and are being brought from Uttar Pradesh. Efforts are on to ensure that sufficient quantities of vegetables reach the markets. The lockdown also ensured that the vegetables could be sent to locations within the State as there is a ready market and government is ensuring that farmers are getting the fair price for their produce.

Prices down by 6%

Surprisingly, the prices actually decreased by 6 per cent, compared to previous years. The entire marketing department is engaged in planning, procuring and distributing the vegetables and fruit in a systematic manner and attending to challenges, if any. Overall there seem to sufficient quantities of vegetables available and there are no complaints of unfair prices. In fact citizens across the city have been sending appreciative messages complimenting the department and its staff on the quality, reasonable pricing and for services rendered.

Procurement of fruit

A special effort is being made to procure fruit in large quantities, owing to their inherent quality in increasing immunity levels. Seasonal fruits like sweet lemon, oranges, and papaya are being procured and made available to citizens through the mobile Rythu Bazars. The Chief Minister has repeatedly stressed on the need to include fruit with C Vitamin in the diet to enhance immunity levels, which is imperative in the current times.

At Hyderabad the Rythu Bazars have registered arrivals of over 7,500 quintals on an average. However, the department is keeping a close watch on the quantities and motivating farmers around Hyderabad to transport their produce to Rythu Bazars and enabling them to find ready markets.

People have responded gratefully and acknowledged the contribution of Mobile Rythu Bazars during these trying times. Senior citizens from various colonies have appreciated the fresh quality of the vegetables as well as the reasonable pricing. Farmers are being provided special passes to access the gated communities and colonies to meet the vegetable demand of the twin cities, to provide fruit such as oranges, lemons and papaya.


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