The State government is considering a network of innovative agritech start-ups involving young entrepreneurs to help farmers sell their produce online under the Subhiksha Keralam project.
The objective is to develop a grassroots-level approach for the marketing and distributing of farm produce and rejuvenate the agricultural sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.
“We want to encourage young entrepreneurs help farmers earn better price and visibility for their produce. The government wants to avoid middlemen,” V.S. Sunil Kumar, Minister for Agriculture, told The Hindu on Friday.
The agritech start-up will develop a cluster of farmers at the local-body level and procure farm produce from the farmers in the area. The customer can order the produce from the online platform where the details of the produce are uploaded and it will be delivered at the doorstep of the customer. The government will ensure that the online platform sell the produce at reasonable rates.
Besides procurement and marketing, the start-ups will share with the farmers knowledge about innovative agricultural practices and marketing techniques. “We had launched a similar project on a pilot basis at Thrissur and it is working efficiently. The farmers involved are getting better rates for their produce while the customers get reasonably priced fresh farm produce,” said Mr. Sunil Kumar.
The Minister said local-level online networks would be able to expand the marketing and distribution mechanism at the grassroots level unlike major online delivery platforms that offer their services mainly in cities and a few second-tier towns.
Direct money transfer
The local bodies have to ensure maximum marketing of the produce at the regional level itself. Marketing centres can be launched at the panchayat and municipality levels. The system should ensure direct transfer of money to the farmers after their produce reaches the market, according to the guidelines approved for Subhiksha Keralam.
The government has directed agencies like Horticorp, Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam, farmer produce societies, Matsyafed, Milma, Consumerfed and Supplyco to procure the produce remaining after the sale at the regional level to help farmers.