Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Jan 08, 2004
Agri-Biz & Commodities
AP rythu bazaars: A success with vast scope
BRISK BUSINESS: A scene at Seethammadhara Rythu Bazar in Visakhapatnam. - C.V. Subrahmanyam
Visakhapatnam , Jan. 7
IT has been five years since the Andhra Pradesh Government has set up rythu bazars with the purpose of providing essentials, especially vegetables, to the common man at cheaper rates and also to benefit the farmers by eliminating the middlemen.
The `Rythu Bazar' week is being celebrated all over the State from January 2 to 8 to review and improve the functioning of bazars. The general opinion among the consumers as well as farmers seems to be that the idea is sound and consumers and farmers are deriving benefit out of it, but there is still room for a lot of improvement.
It is generally agreed that the bazars have stabilised the prices in the local markets, especially those of vegetables, and the consumers get them at cheaper rates, at least by Rs 2 or Rs 3 per kg and the quality of vegetables is also satisfactory.
The concept of a rythu bazar, of course, is not altogether new and there have been weekly fairs (santalu, as they are known as in Telugu) in rural as well as semi-urban areas of the State from ages and all sorts of things are sold there once or twice a week. But the urbanites, especially the middle class, are not in the habit of frequenting the santalu.
There is also a noteworthy difference between the rythu bazars and santalu, as even the wholesale business is allowed in the latter as against only retail business in the former. There is, of course, no Government control over the prices in santalu and they are determined purely by market forces.
But even now, after the existence of rythu bazars, the traditional markets, santalu, have an impact on sales in rythu bazaars. Some people find it more convenient to buy vegetables and other provisions in santalu rather than at rythu bazars.
In Visakhapatnam city and Gajuwaka municipality, for instance, there are 13 rythu bazars and only those that are situated away from the areas where these weekly fairs are held, do a brisk business throughout the week. Rythu bazars in MVP colony and Seethammadhara are doing fine. But the one near Gopalapatnam and the other at Sujatanagar are affected to an extent by the weekly fairs.
In Peddapuram in East Godavari district, for instance, the weekly fair is so popular that the officials have found it not worthwhile to run the rythu bazar on that day and declared it a holiday.
One of the challenges faced by the Marketing Department is to integrate these traditional markets and the rythu bazars.
Mr G. Vidyasagar, Managing Director of the AP Girijan Co-operative Corporation here, has mooted the idea of converting the traditional markets into rythu bazars.
Another problem faced by the officials in most rythu bazars is, of course, the infiltration of the bazars by middlemen in the guise of farmers. Though identity cards have been introduced and there are periodical checks, the problem still persists in many bazars.
Location is also very vital to the success of a rythu bazar and some of them are badly located and there are demands to relocate them.
There are also demands to open more bazars, as the existing ones are not sufficient. In some areas, mobile rythu bazars have been introduced and there are demands for door delivery in many areas, at a little extra cost.
To encourage more farmers to bring their produce to the bazars, the Marketing Department has started supplying seeds to them at 50 per cent subsidy.
Rice is also sold in many rythu bazars, but the business is not very brisk and a rythu bazar is mainly perceived as a vegetable market.
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