A scheme helps prevent wastage

National Vegetable Initiative brings poly houses to Ludhiana, farmers see hope of direct selling.

A central government scheme has helped farmers in Ludhiana preserve their vegetables better and encouraged them enough to think about shortening the supply chain to the consumer.

Under the National Vegetable Initiative introduced in 2011-12, the horticulture department last year selected Ludhiana to start group farming for vegetables. The scheme includes setting up poly houses for better preservation of vegetables.

"Because of the interest shown by farmers, we have included 6,005 farmers of Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur and Jalandhar from this year under the same scheme. The objective is to provide quality vegetables to the consumer directly from the farmer, and remove the middleman," says Dr Bhajnik Singh, nodal officer for NVI.

The scheme with its subsidies and various facilities has a budget of Rs 300 crore; Punjab has so far spent Rs 12 crore of its share. In Ludhiana, the scheme has so far involved hybrid vegetables on 702 acres and normal vegetables on 231 acres.

The spending has been in the form of subsidies and setting up poly houses, says horticulture officer Dr Harmail Singh. The department has formed 74 farmer groups in various villages and setting up the poly houses at select places.

"I have a poly house and am carrying out open farming," says Davinder Singh of Mushkabad village, one in a society of 28 farmers formed by horticulture department. He grows coloured capsicum, tomato, chilli, bitter gourd and bottle gourd.

Davinder says the farmers have started grading and packing their vegetables and are sending them to Delhi and Chandigarh markets, apart from some to Ludhiana. He feels the NVI should focus more on the marketing because the price gap between what the consumer pays and what the farmer gets remains wide.

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