COVID-19: Going local, with help for the farmer in Kerala

Sukumaran Unni farms indigenous paddy, espresso and greens in Thirunelli (Wayanad). He was resulting from come to Kochi with produce when Wayanad was declared a COVID-19 hotspot. Like many different farmers, he has not been in a position to transfer harvest to markets/shops in different elements of the State. When particulars of his produce had been posted on lovelocalbuylocal, a Facebook web page, he bought just a few calls however he can not transfer his produce. The orders should wait or get cancelled.

‘lovelocalbuylocal’, a Facebook group, as the title suggests, was launched in early May with the sole function to help farmers like Sukumaran discover markets in the modified circumstances. Pineapple farmer Bibin Vasu was the first to profit from it. Pineapple farmers in Kerala’s pineapple belt, at the coronary heart of which lies Vazhakulam, had been the first to be hit.

Usually the harvest is shipped to States outdoors Kerala made not possible resulting from journey restrictions. Bibin has his farms in Koothattukulam. “Around 20 truckloads are shipped from our farm. The lockdown restrictions made that impossible. I did the next best thing, contact people I know and figure out a way. I was prepared to load my pickup with pineapples and head to Kochi to sell them on the road if I had to. What else could I do?” asks Bibin. The Department of Agriculture ran an intervention – ‘pineapple challenge’ – to help pineapple farmers.

He bought in contact with entrepreneurs Jeemol Koruth Varghese and Diwia Thomas, who ended up serving to in an unconventional method – they, with six associates, posted a video of them cooking a pineapple dish. At the finish of the video, Bibin spoke of how farmers like him have been affected. As the video was shared a number of instances over social media – WhatsApp and Facebook – Bibin began getting calls.

As a consequence he ended up promoting shut to 2 tonnes (2000 kilos) of pineapple. “We were able to cut down our losses,” he says.

During Ramadan fruits are in demand, and a kilo of pineapple sells, in accordance with Bibin, at Rs. 45. He offered at Rs. 25 per kilo by promoting the fruit outdoors condo buildings and residential areas.

A bit help goes a great distance

The enquiries on account of the video led to the ‘lovelocalbuylocal’ web page. Managed by Diwia, Jeemol and their associates, the web page repeatedly posts updates about farm produce and the contact particulars of the distributors promoting greens, indigenous varieties rice, gooseberry, mangoes, and even poultry. “We want to help farmers market their produce. Now, more than ever, we need to support local farmers and enterprise,” Diwia says. The new enterprise mannequin is ‘B2C’ – enterprise to shopper – which calls for a brand new system of working. A system that everyone concerned is discovering their method round, particularly farmers most of who’re ill-equipped for the scenario. “We want to hand-hold the farmer on the last mile delivery.”

The eight girls moreover Diwia and Jeemol are Laila Sudheesh, Indu Jayaram, Linda Rakhesh, Asha Suresh, Bobby Antony and Nimin Hilal. They are businesswomen and shut associates, who take turns maintaining the web page up to date. Not solely Facebook, they share particulars over WhatsApp too. They deliver in their expertise into lovelocalbuylocal.

“We are careful about who we post about – these are people we are sure of. There is credibility attached to our names, and at no cost do we want to compromise,” says Jeemol. Each farmer is vetted by them or a dependable supply, solely then are the particulars posted on the web page. “We have designed the creative in such a way that it grabs eyeballs,” says Diwia, of the yellow and black structure of the posts. They share the creatives on all social media platforms they’re on together with WhatsApp. The work is voluntary. The web page is up to date solely when a farmer is able to harvest. “It makes no sense posting days in advance as people would forget. Nobody gains but the farmer loses,” says Jeemol.

B Bhagyaraj, a farmer from Cherthala

Bhagyaraj B, from Cherthala, farms greens – okra, bitter gourd, plantain, ash gourd, cucumber, string beans and papaya – moreover grown hen, duck, and quail. Usually he would publish an inventory on WhatsApp, to all his contacts. However after being featured on the lovelocalbuylocal web page, he stopped. The publish resulted in many calls and orders from a wider viewers, giving him extra attain for the future. “Now I load up my pickup and head to specific locations – near apartment buildings – where people buy from me,” he says. He makes the journey as soon as per week.

There have been just a few, minor hitches particularly to with portions. Especially mangoes – “People want a kilo or two, and for the vendor, who exports huge quantities it doesn’t make sense. Also a kilo or two might mean just two or three mangoes and he sends six kilo boxes … those were teething troubles. All said and done, he has managed to finish his stock,” says Diwia.

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