A demand which remains a dream for wholesale vegetable merchants in the city is a state-of-the-art market with a biogas plant and cold storage facilities.
In Koyambedu, the market is spread over 98 acres. In several other districts, there is a well-developed market. In Coimbatore, the traders have been asking for such a market. “We asked for smaller area, about 20 acres. The Government can develop the infrastructure or it give the area to us on lease,” says M. Rajendran, president of the Thyagi Kumaran Market Vegetable Merchants’ Association. “I have given this representation to the Governments repeatedly,” he says.
“I received 75 bags of onions on Friday. Nearly 20 % of the onions were damaged. If I keep it with me for more number of days, the damage will worsen. Hence, I sold it for lower price to another trader,” he says. In any vegetable consignment that comes to the market, there is at least minimum damage to the produce. “Packing, loading, and transport are not well-developed in the country. Some vegetables do not last for more than 24 hours from the time of harvest,” he says. In summer, when the temperature soars, and on days when there is heavy rain, the damages to vegetables are more.
There is one cold storage facility in the city and four or five in Mettupalayam. The Mettupalayam facilities are used for potatoes. “We have been asking for a market place with cold storage facility and a biogas plant. Though all vegetables cannot be stored at the cold storage, at least some varieties can be kept. The vegetables that get spoilt and are thrown away can be used to produce power,” he says.
The potential for cold storage projects is high in Coimbatore, especially in areas such as Annur and Thondamuthur. Though it might not be viable for small-scale farmers, medium and large-scale farmers can go in for it. Some of the farmer producer organisations that were formed recently are considering cold storage projects, said an official of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The NABARD has revived its Agriculture Marketing Infrastructure scheme. This can also be used to get funds for cold storage projects.