state to identify areas
rajib chakraborty 
[email protected]
Kolkata, 8 July
To tackle the scourge of middlemen, bring down prices of vegetables and ensure better price for the growers, the state government is going to set up vegetable clusters in the urban areas of the state.
State food processing industries and horticulture department have begun the process of identifying the areas where vegetable clusters can be formed in 11 districts including North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Murshidabad and East Midnapore and other districts.
A senior official of the food processing department said the agri-marketing department will also form around 400 groups of about 9000 farmers for the project for which Rs 17 crore has been earmarked for first phase. A supply chain will be established through which farmers’ groups can transport their vegetables to town markets.
“Once this project is implemented, vegetables will be available particularly to
 the urban population. Farmers’ groups will be trained properly so that they can provide safe and good quality vegetables at affordable prices," said an official of the agriculture marketing department.
Several other problems of the farmers also need to be addressed. Issues like production, logistics, post-harvest handling, storage, transportation, marketing, distribution are big challenges and the department is gearing up to meet them.
The department has incorporated 5200 farmers into several groups and cluster identification work is being pursued. Municipal corporations and other public sector agencies were asked for making land available for such cultivation. Funds, for the project, have been allotted from Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY). Special emphasis will be given on producing vegetables with organic fertiliser. Farmers will be trained to make organic fertilizer and organic pesticide. Training centres will be set up near the cultivation cluster areas.
State food processing minister Mr Subrata Saha, said the state government was trying to clear obstacles faced by farmers for selling vegetables directly in the market and has asked the municipalities to find out suitable places for vending the vegetables.
Another senior official of the agriculture marketing department said the number of daily wage earners who work on farmland was dwindling and the department plans to train youths to work in farmlands so that they can earn their money.