Hill farmers to get pride of place in this year’s Mati Utsav
In a unique step to create a wider market for agricultural produce from the hills, Mamata Banerjee government has created an exclusive space for farmers from hilly regions of the state in this year’s Mati Utsav.
This is the first time when such an initiative has been taken to create space to promote the agricultural produce from the hills, mainly cardamom and ginger. The five-day-long Mati Utsav is going to start from Monday at Mati Tirtha, which is situated off Kalna Road in Burdwan, and farmers mainly from Kalimpong have already reached the venue.
According to a senior official of the state agriculture marketing department, Bengal is one of the largest large cardamom producing states in the country along with its adjacent state Sikkim. Large cardamom is mainly grown in the sub-Himalayan hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim.
“It has a good market across the country and if not huge, a good quantity of large cardamom is also being exported abroad from Bengal. But our target is to help farmers get the benefits in a better way and there is no other option to do so apart from going for direct sales negating middlemen,” the official said adding that there could be no better platform then Mati Utsav to help farmers get directly linked with wholesalers and exporters.
Four farmers from Kalimpong, who are members of a Farmers Producers’ Organisation, have already reached the venue and they initiated the preparation to display their produce to attract most people at the stall allotted to them. Besides cardamom they will also be displaying ginger, which is again produced in huge quantity in the hills.
It may be mentioned that it had always been the attempt of the Mamata Banerjee government to help farmers get maximum profit whether they are from the plain land or the hills in the state.
The official said that cardamom producers, like all other farmers, sometimes get deprived of the right price for the intervention made by middlemen who buy the produce from farmers at a cheaper rate, hoard the produce to increase its demand in the market and later sell it at a premium to wholesalers. It affects both the farmers as well as the end consumers as farmers do not get paid for their hard work and people also need to buy the same item at a much higher price from their local market.
In Mati Utsav, farmers from the hills are going to get five days to interact directly with end consumers that with help them learn the basic skill of direct sale without taking help of any middlemen. They will also come to know about the preferences of consumers and they themselves can realise that how much more profit they can make if they sell their produce directly in open market.
It may be mentioned that the state government provides a subsidy of Rs 10,000 to farmers under Amar Fasal Amar Gari project to buy hand-pulled vans and perforated poly crates using which their agricultural produce could be easily take to market or the storehouses.