Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.
In the wake of the ongoing nationwide lockdown, farmers across the country are struggling to sell their harvest. With the lockdown coming down heavy on travelling, farmers have no means to take their produce to the city. Left with no choice, many farmers even resorted to burning down their produce.
Faced with the same plight, farmers on the outskirts of Bengaluru, reached out to Sarjapura Residents Welfare Association (SRWA) to consider delivering their produce to the many residents there.
"Muniraju, a representative from the farmer community, approached us and asked if instead of going all the way to KR market - which is quite far from Sarjapur - they could deliver farm products here," Joy VR, co-founder and current secretary of SRWA tells The Logical Indian.
Muniraju told SRWA that taking all the produce from the farms nearby to the city amid the lockdown was proving very difficult for the farmers. Furthermore, it was also hard for them to obtain a travel pass.
"We realised that there are a lot of farmers who are destroying their crops because they are not able to sell their produce. When they do not get the price, they just destroy it. We did not want that to happen to the farmlands near Sarjapura," says Joy.
Soon, messages were sent to the members of the association on Whatsapp to know if they would be interested in buying the vegetables. Muniraju's offer was a win-win as the residents in Sarjapura were also not receiving vegetables from the city. It further helped the residents to avoid travelling to procure their groceries. Moreover, the fresh vegetables straight from the farms were quite affordable.
"The initiative is quite helpful. Since now we are getting all the supplies through SRWA, no one has to go out. And that has reduced a lot of exposure and we are staying very safe," Mabel Anish, one of the residents, tells The Logical Indian.
What thus started out as a message in their Whatsapp and Facebook group has now helped more than 700 residents. The farmers, who were struggling to sell their products are now earning nearly ₹15,000 in a day.
"The farmers save ₹2 per kilogram for essential vegetables like tomato, potato, carrot, and onion. Without the hassle of going to the city, the farmers earn around ₹15,000 daily," explains Joy.
"Every day, early morning, Muniraju will pick up the farm produce, load it and bring it here around 8:30. The previous night, I would give him the list of villas/apartments he has to go," explains Joy.
Every day, an excel sheet is prepared by coordinating with members of all the apartments and villas under the association. Once everyone's requirements are received, the excel sheet is then forwarded to Muniraju.
In the morning, Muniraju, along with his three helpers, would then go to each apartment, unload the vegetables in a crate, and the residents would buy these, all the while maintaining safe distance. The workers and the residents also wear masks as a precaution.
"I was browsing Google to check for some fresh vegetables under this lockdown. That's how I happened to get Joy's number. I had given him a call to check if we could arrange something for our apartment. With the association in place and coordinating with Joy, we had arranged it the very next day," Nisha Purshothaman, another resident, tells The Logical Indian.
"The vegetables were really fresh, rightly priced, I was surprised to see such a good price for fresh vegetables. Most importantly, social distancing was also very strictly followed," she adds.
However, the venture was no smooth sail. A week into the initiative, the police clamped down on the timings on travel, citing the ongoing lockdown. In Sarjapura, the residents were only allowed to buy essentials between 7 am to 10 am.
"That became a problem for the vegetable vendor to supply it beyond 10 am. We had a huge community, he was distributing vegetables to at least 100 people each day. The timing proved too short for supplying to everyone," says Joy.
They then raised the issue with the police. "We got a very good response from the Commissioner saying that we were doing a good job. And we could continue doing our work," says Joy.
The police further relaxed the timings for the vegetable vendors. Bhaskar Rao, Commissioner Of Police, also praised SRWA's initiative in a tweet.
"I admire Sarjapur Residents Welfare Association to directly trade with Farmers to buy vegetables without middlemen. Win-Win Situation Marvelous initiative," he tweeted.
I admire Sarjapur Residents Welfare Association to directly trade with Farmers to buy vegetables without middlemen. Win Win Situation Marvelous initiative ...hope it continues beyond Carona..— Bhaskar Rao IPS (@deepolice12) April 9, 2020
In the coming days, SRWA is planning to onboard more vendors.
"When Muniraju first proposed the idea, we never expected it to help so many people. We are trying to expand and make it better. We will also take up more vendors so that we can empower more people," says Joy.
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