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BAZAAR OR SUPERMART: Where should you buy from?

‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan!’ Heard this enough? You must have. It was raised back in 1965 to increase food grain production in our country, reduce dependence on imports and most importantly, to do away with the plight of farmers.

Sheetal Dhamecha

Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan!’ Heard this enough? You must have. It was raised back in 1965 to increase food grain production in our country, reduce dependence on imports and most importantly, to do away with the plight of farmers. However, 53 years down the lane, nothing changed much. The misery, the plight, the undeterred efforts and the not so appreciable gains are all the same. Who is at fault?

None can deny, agriculture in India is more a way of life than just a mode of business. Farming has been the backbone of the Indian economy. About half of the Indian population depends on agriculture for income. Agriculture and its related sectors contribute around US$244.74 billion to India’s economy. Besides commercial agriculture, subsistence agriculture i.e. farming with emphasis on production of food for the cultivator’s family is widespread in our country.

Agriculture production and farmers’ welfare are like two sides of the coin. Despite India being a ‘green power,’ farmers continue to commit suicide. Don’t you think this is a cause demanding concern?

Corporatization of the farming sector - what appears good may not be so good!

There are repeated stories in the media on how FDI in retail could benefit the farmers of India. But unfortunately, the evidence points in the opposite direction. Farmers have to pay a big price, with hundreds of them forced to shut down their farms, due to the big retailers and super markets coming up.

Aware of the big retailers' business model?

Big retail functions on a simple business model. Expand more and more till the market becomes an oligopsony — which means a situation where power is exerted by a small number of buyers over a large number of sellers.

Buyers:  The supermarket giants

Sellers:  The farmers

Big companieskeep getting bigger with chain of exploitation, using wholesale agents who extract low prices from unorganized, indebted farmers. They exert pressure on the small farmer who is worried to sell his produce.The UK food retailing industry, for example, is now dominated by just four supermarket chains who together account for over two-thirds of retail food sales. Likewise, the top five chains in the US account for over 60 per cent of food sales.

When a big man comes, the small has to go.

We all buy food, but not everyone gets their food from the same place. The hawker who comes to your colony every morning or the farmer in the local bazaar want to sell their produce to you. Also, the big stores in your big city with a variety of so called ‘fresh’ daily items want you to grab a few things from there.

Advocate P Sainath, who has been writing about rural India for 18 years says, “The middleman at the city end (in the local bazaar) is usually a poor woman vendor who carries up seven flights of stairs 35 kilograms of produce on her head. Everyday it's getting more difficult for her to get produce because the wholesalers sell directly to Reliance Fresh and Godrej Nature's Basket (the supermarket giants.)"









Sounds local?

Sounds fancy?

Your food travels not even 250 km.

Your food travels around 2500 km.

Added antioxidants and phytonutrients

Added chemical preservatives.

Get what you like, kind of deal.

Buy what they want to sell, kind of deal!

You reduce your community’s carbon footprint.

You add to the carbon footprint as ‘artificiality appeals!’

Bargain for 10 bucks

Don’t care to pay 100 bucks for the label.

Support the local farmer and boost your economy.

Support a globalized player and kick out the small farmer.


What can you do from your end?

Things that you can do from your end – Small steps yield big returns.

  • Eat seasonally and locally

  • Be Understanding and Flexible as nature is awesome but she isn’t perfect!

  • Create your own food networks: your own community gardens, food co-ops are a good start. Work to maintain a healthy environment, a vibrant community, and a strong and sustainable local economy for you and your kids to thrive in.

  • Be skeptical, not biased. Question the super mart giant and the local farmer alike. Honesty is more expensive than ‘organic’!

  • High Price doesn’t promise high quality.

  • Like the wax coated oranges and apples? Know: Appearances are deceptive!

The moral battle is won at the Farmer’s Market. A victory that they’ve been longing for.

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