When the first spell of showers in May threatened to literally pour cold water over their months of hard labour, tapioca farmers in Ayavana panchayat in Muvattupuzha block approached the agriculture department to save their crop and help to sell them.
The department sought the help of a corporate major, and with the help of their corporate social responsibility funding, procured tapioca from the farmers and distributed them for community kitchens and free food kits along the coastal areas.
“The initiative organised by the department officials switched to a more sustainable model when the eco shop, an initiative of the agriculture department for the marketing of rural farm produce, of Ayavana panchayat joined the force. Since then the initiative has been running smoothly and it could be even tried in other panchayats in Muvattupuzha block,” said Tany Thomas, agriculture assistant director, Muvattupuzha block.
From a largely charity initiative, it has since then being reprogrammed into an effective platform for rural farmers for their produce going beyond tapioca.
“We reached out to apartment owners in Kochi and pitched it as an initiative to help the farmer community while having access to fresh products. Quality is not compromised since products harvested in the morning are delivered by the evening,” said Anju Paul, agriculture officer, Ayavana panchayat.
The pitching did evoke a very good response going by the regular dispatch of diverse products, ranging from tapioca and pine apple and jackfruit to banana flower once every two to three days depending on the orders received.
“We have so far delivered 18 tones of tapioca, four to five tones of pineapple, over 250 jackfruits and a lot of eggs and banana flowers. Over 70 farmers in the panchayat are benefiting from the scheme and more than 15 apartments in the city are our regular clients now. This has been a Godsend for farmers hit by the pandemic and lack of market access,” said Sajeev John, president, Bhagyasree Eco Shop.
That often the children of farmers deliver the produce give the whole initiative an emotional connect with consumers going beyond commerce while it has helped even marginal farmers to find a market for their produce.
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