Do farmers markets in cities really benefit farmers?

In the Indian context, any discussion around marketing agricultural produce of farmers begins with depressing statistics. It tells us of loss of so many thousand tons of fresh produce rotten and wasted in the post-production and post-harvest cycle. It is then argued that the country needs to invest heavily in post-production infrastructure and ensure reforms in the marketing of agricultural produce so that farmers have options to sell outside the existing channels of agricultural produce marketing committees (APMC), popularly known as mandis.

Some experts even go a step further in arguing that farmers should actually time their produce and produce what the market wants. They propagate dreams such as from farm to the fork or plough to plate. While these are important macro-economic discussions, a small experiment is underway in Pune for the past one year. These are weekly farmers markets that are now catching the attention of the current and aspiring political class too, besides getting increased patronage from both farmers and urban consumers.

To a rural citizen, this urban phenomenon of a weekly market might not sound interesting at all. There are thousands of weekly markets, popularly known as rural haats, which are organized in each and every corner of the country. A weekly haat offers time and space to hundreds of small and marginal farmers and other small and micro-enterprises to market their agricultural produce week after week. The place and time is pre-determined. Some of the hawkers move from one day to another day to market their produce. The same concept seems to be catching up in cities such as Pune.