Due to pending, cool-season vegetable farmers in Idukki shift to other produce

A winter vegetable farm at Kanthalloor panchayat in Idukki. | Photo credit: JOMON PAMPAVALLEY

As the Kerala government agency Horticorp has reportedly failed to make timely payments, several farmers in the cool-season vegetable cultivation hub of Vattavada and Kanthalloor in Idukki district have switched to other productions. According to farmers, the government agency has failed to ensure a proper market for cool-season vegetables.

Subrahmani, a farmer from Vattavada, said that last March, the agency collected vegetables worth ₹90,000. “After repeated requests, they credited ₹45,000 to my account. However, the remaining amount has not been credited yet,” he said.

“Nearly 200 farmers in the Vattavada region are struggling to receive the pending payment from the agency. Now, they are selling directly to Tamil Nadu vendors,” added Mr. Subrahmani.

Several other farmers also say they face a similar fate. K. Jayaprakash, president of the vegetable farmer’s society in Vattavada, said that in the cool season, farmers in Vattavada and Kanthalloor struggle to find suitable markets. “Many have switched to cultivating garlic and butter beans which have a certain market in Tamil Nadu,” said Mr. Jayaprakash.

Kanthalloor winter vegetable farmers’ society secretary Sojan PG said Horticorp has failed to provide ₹10.12 lakh which has been due to the society during the 2017-19 period. “When asked about the dues, the officials said that vegetables worth more than ₹5 lakh were damaged in that period. The last Onam season, the government agency procured only one load of vegetables from Kanthalloor. However, I have not yet received the payment,” said Mr. Sojan.

There are 701 farmers under the Kanthalloor vegetable farmers’ society, and over 1,000 in the Vegetable and Fruit Promotion Council Keralam (VFPCK). “The reality is that without proper market and timely remuneration, farmers cannot survive. While many farmers have stopped cultivating winter vegetables, some have decided to evade vegetable farming altogether and started planting eucalyptus,” said a source.

When contacted, Horticorp Idukki district manager Pameela Vimalraj told The Hindu that there was a due of ₹58 lakh to the farmers in Vattavada and the farmers’ society in Kanthalloor. “The last year’s due was paid to the farmers in the Onam season. Now, the money is paid to farmers from Hortocorp’s central office,” said Ms. Vimalraj.

“We hope to disburse the pending dues soon,” added Ms. Vimalraj.

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