Saturday, June 11, 2011


One of the most visible changes taking place in some of the wealthy countries is the phenomenal growth of farmers' markets which are supposed to offer fresh produce directly from the farmers to the consumers in the neighborhood communities. The major factor for the large scale patronage of these markets by the consumers is the progressively ebbing confidence on the ability of organized retailing sector to provide products in fresh condition with assured quality and safety as expected by the consumers. Not that all farmers' markets are able to satisfy the consumer but majority of them are well organized and deliver products to the full satisfaction of the buyers. Generally the number of farmers' markets in an urban community is limited forcing many to travel quite some distance to reach them but with transportation never a constraint for citizens in wealthy countries, those who are particular to buy really fresh produce do nor mind this minor inconvenience. Many farmers' markets are organized in places and facilities provided by the civic authorities and sanitary conditions are overseen by them. Having convinced about the relevance of farmers' markets, there is a clamor for setting up more such centers in cities that will spare the customers the need to travel through busy city streets. Here is a view point from a citizen in Canada regarding the importance of farmers' market to the urban community.

"First off, the Calgary Farmers' Market is not a true farmers' market. Only about half of the vendors are farmers. It is as much a food court and craft market as a true farmers' market. I also don't buy the argument that the city should be supporting a farmers' market because it connects consumers with producers and will lead to a stronger sustainable food policy. It's a nice, altruistic idea, but I don't think the city should be in the behaviour modification business. As Jeremy Klaszus recently pointed out in the Calgary Herald, other cities subsidize their major markets. But in Calgary's case, if we were to do that, we would have to subsidize not only the Calgary Farmers' Market, but also the Crossroads Market and Kingsland Market because they have a similar business model. I recall one letter to the editor in the Herald asking about why there's all the media fuss over the Calgary Farmers' Market, as it's not the city's only farmer's market — good point. Rather than imitate what other cities are currently doing or looking to the past, I say let's look to the future and develop a new Calgary model for farmers' markets. I propose that instead of a major downtown market that requires Calgarians to drive across town to get to it, we develop more modest, year-round farmer/food producer-only markets in each quadrant of the city (all three current major farmer's markets are currently in the south)".

Whether one calls it farmers' market or by any other name the concept is very sound and world over such markets must come up to link the grower to the consumer. Of course there will be stiff resistance from whole sale distributors and large retailing giants as their business may be affected to some extent. In a country like India there are scattered road side vending practice in almost all cities while some rudimentary facilities are built in some towns and cities for selling fresh produce. Unfortunately those who sell the produce are not real farmers but vendors who get their materials from the government controlled marketing yards. What is required is a genuine farmers' market where individual farmers are allowed to bring their produce directly to the customers. Archaic laws which come in the way of implementing such progressive new ideas must be scrapped. Farmers' markets, functionally designed with all necessary facilities must be built in almost all townships in the country for the benefit of both farmers as well as the citizens of the country.


No comments: