As the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh prepares to be officially divided on Monday, farmers in the new state aim to cut back on the influence of middlemen, who get away with bulk of profits from their produce.
India has seen a steep hike in vegetable and fruit prices, a point underscored by a World Bank report, and ordinary farmers are on the receiving end of the price hikes.
Low agricultural productivity, drought and poor infrastructure are to be blamed for the farmers’ misery, but a defunct systemwhere licenced middlemen, or traders who distribute the farmer’s products to retailers, end up increasing prices for customers.
To tackle this problem, in 1999, then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, started the rythu bazaar or farmers’ market initiative.
Farmers and their produce are transported from surrounding villages to a dedicated place in the closest major city where they can directly interact with consumers and sell their items. So buyers get lower prices and farmer’s get a fair profitwithout the supply chain costs – a win-win situation.
Al Jazeera visited one of these bazaars in the city of Vijayawada in March just as the state was gearing up to vote.
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