What picture comes to your mind, when you imagine a tribal person? Perhaps a man in dark skin and with minimal of clothes and peculiar ways of his/her in which they behave and level of sophistication. Other thing which possibly hit your mind while thinking of a tribal person is the primitive level of know hows of the modern world. But this tribe from Andhra Pradesh will prove you wrong in all your prejudices. People from this tribe are not just finding a reflection of them in the regular and modern world but are doing something which is more than a regular farmer would do in the sense that these farmers from Visakhapatnam, are not just growing and trading in vegetables, which is the most profit making crop. People from this tribe are growing exotic vegetables like lettuce and broccoli.
Chintapalli, 120 kms away from Visakhapatnam, is a case in point. Moving away from the traditional practices and crops that have never given them sufficient incomes, farmers from this village are gradually shifting their focus to exotic vegetables such as iceberg lettuce and broccoli.
More than 150 Farmers are growing vegetables such as broccoli over an area of about 100 acres. it’s the slow shift to the exotic vegetables diverting from the regular vegetables. It is more interesting to know that how these farmers are accessing urban markets with their produce. The switch has not been easy, especially considering the hilly terrain in which these farmers work, where water retention is limited.
Horticulture Department of Andhra Pradesh is helping the farmers getting support for this modern innovation of theirs, which has tied up with the Ooty-based Lawrencedale Agro Processing (Leaf) for an integrated horticulture development project. The PPP, public-private partnership has been formed with a view to supporting small tribal farmers. What LEAF focusses on is the agri-value chains. They work with the farmers in the back-end and they only buy back the produce for organised retail shops. In that manner the tribals do not have any problem connecting with the market. Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are the states where this company is operating as for now to procure vegetables and meet the urban demand.
Palat Vijayaraghavan, Founder and CEO of LEAF, said his firm would help Chintapalli become a key destination for fresh produce. The PPP will provide advisory services and establish post-harvest facilities. “We have about 100 acres under partnership with farmers in the Chintapalli area. Of this, carrot is covered on 75 acres, cabbage, cauliflower and beans on 20 acres and broccoli and iceberg lettuce on five acres. Over a 3-year period, the project aims to cover 500 acres supporting 800 farmers,” he added.
LEAF, which has a network of 30,000 farmers in the southern States, is targeting 100-tonnes-per-day production capacity by the year end from 30-35 tonnes a day at present. It plans to gather information and guide member farmers on what to grow and how much. Chiranjiv Choudhary, Commissioner of Horticulture (Andhra Pradesh), says that little interventions are helping farmers in adding value by grading and cleaning and providing linkages to markets to realise better incomes. “This can be developed as a model that can be replicated elsewhere,” he told BusinessLine, while announcing the partnership recently.
The State grows horticultural crops on about 16 lakh hectares with a total production of 252 lakh tonnes. It registered a GVA (gross value added) of ₹35,000 crore in 2016-17. “We are expecting this to grow to ₹40,300 crore, showing a growth of nearly 20 per cent,” he said.