Hiriyur food park stops processing unit, farmers hit
G S Ujjanappa, TNN | Oct 6, 2012, 06.28AM IST
CHITRADURGA: Almost a year ago, when the Akshaya Food Park (AFP) was set up in Hiriyur to encourage organic farming, there was much anticipation among farmers. The AFP was one among six agri parks conceived by the government to develop organic farming on 3,500 acres across Chitradurga, Tumkur, Davanagere, Bellary, Shimoga and Hassan districts
The food park had started processing fruits and vegetables after it was set up last October. But in less than a year, the story has turned sour with the processing units shut down. AFP’s CMD M Narayana Swamy had promised to process 15,000 quintals of organically grown agricultural produce, including spices, fruits and vegetables during the kharif season. But after six or seven months, the AFP slowed its processing owing to reduced supply by the growers. The multiple impact of continued drought conditions, irregular power supply and attack of pests and diseases on both pomegranate and musambi plantations meant growers could not maintain a steady supply to AFP.
All activities in the AFP came to a standstill and well-qualified staffers who were manning the facility left the place. The staff had expertise in maintaining quality and preserving shelf life of finished products.
CMD of the Hiriyur facility, Narayana Swamy, while interacting with fruit and vegetable growers and purchasers during a recent convention at the food park, explained that AFP would outsource the processing job. While the AFP would not manufacture processed food and market it, it would act as a facilitator to growers, purchasers and traders who can avail the facilities such as modern cold storage, grading and packing machines for both fruits, vegetables and food items and spices and godowns etc for a nominal rate. Besides segregation of seeds and juice making from pomegranate fruits, value addition to aromatic and Pachouli were available to growers.
He offered traders, wholesale dealers, hoteliers, caterers, super bazaars and hostel managers AFP’s godown facility, food processing and animals feed units. But farmers present at the event said the current conditions were not conducive for them to take up any offer since agricultural produce itself had been affected. With borewells drying, drought conditions and pest attacks and diseases hitting crops, farmers said the focus had to be on salvaging crops.