Farmers in Darrang district have demanded a cold storage facility at the Balugaon wholesale market in Kharupetia to store vegetables that can be sold later.
The Alikash market commonly known as Balugaon Wholesale Bazar is a prominent market, which fulfills the average market demand for 300-350 tonnes of vegetables.
Vegetables from this market are transported to different parts of the state besides Tripura, Mizoram, North Bengal and Delhi.
Every day 20-25 trucks, each loaded with 10-12 tonnes of fresh vegetables, travel from the Balugaon wholesale market to Guwahati, Upper Assam districts, Silchar, Tripura and Mizoram.
Vegetables like french bean, capsicum, chilly, etc which don’t perish easily are also transported to North Bengal and Delhi.
“Retailers from nearby markets also procure a large number of vegetables from this market,” said Krishna Saha, a resident of Kharupetia.
Saha further said, “If we consider an average price of Rs 100 per quintal then the market has a regular transaction of Rs 30-35 lakhs per day.”
“The Balugaon market is the lifeline of local farmers as it offers an assured market platform for them. Here the farmers get the opportunity to directly deal with traders coming from the entire Northeast, whereas in other markets farmers have to make the deals through middlemen,” said Habibur Rahman, a farmer of the nearby Bihudiya village.
“If the vegetables are not sold, farmers can keep them in the safe custody of the market management committee for the next day. However, a cold storage facility is required to store the vegetables for a longer duration,” said Rahman.
Farmers at times have to sell their vegetables at prices as low as Rs 4/7 per kilo when there is a surplus in their production.
In absence of a cold storage facility, the farmers have no other alternative but to throw away the surplus vegetables or feed them to their cattle.
Rahman who had cultivated capsicum in 10 bighas of land before the lockdown, could sell only twenty percent of the produce.
Similar was the case for many farmers in the area who could not store their surplus vegetables and incurred heavy losses.