Officials will monitor total adherence to norms by farmers, visitors: Collector

Farmers are back in business as the district administrations of Vellore and Tiruvannamalai re-opened all farmers’ markets within their limits since Monday with strict guidelines to maintain COVID-19 safety protocols. The Uzhavar Santhai, as it is known, was shut in these districts for a-year-and-a-half due to the pandemic.

Farmers cultivating melons, ladies finger, drumstick, brinjal, gourd and beans and green leafy vegetables sell their produce directly to consumers without any middlemen taking away a part of their income. Apart from vegetables, fruits and greens, tender coconuts are also being sold in the farmers’ markets between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. since Monday.

The allotment of shops every day would be based on a first come, first serve basis, a pattern followed in the rest of the santhais in the State.

Interestingly, farmers’ markets in the Fort Town were reopened only on Tuesday whereas neighbouring Tiruvannamalai did it a day earlier on Monday with safety steps in place, including spraying of disinfectants and installation of hand sanitisers at each of the outlets.

“Reopening of farmers’ markets will help boost local economy and also provide income to the farmers. However, agriculture officials will monitor complete adherence to safety norms by farmers and visitors,” B. Murugesh, District Collector, Tiruvannamalai, told The Hindu.

At present, the district has eight farmers’ markets, including in Tiruvannamalai town, Cheyyar, Arni, Chengam and Vandavasi. Every day, on average, 10 tonnes of vegetables and fruits arrive at these markets and at least 100 farmers benefit in each of them. In fact, the farmers’ market in Tiruvannamalai town generated a revenue of ₹10 lakh, selling 31 tonnes of perishable commodities daily since Monday.

The Fort Town is no less a match for its neighbouring district as the two farmers’ markets in Vellore and Katpadi sold 30,000 kg of vegetables and fruits each on Tuesday. As a goodwill gesture, a physically challenged person has been allotted a permanent shop in the market in Fort Town by Vellore Collector P. Kumaravel Pandian based on a petition he gave during the grievance meeting on Monday. Free bus transport has also been arranged for farmers.

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