The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, in the south-east of the country, is to by-pass traditional outlets to ensure fresh food reaches the public directly from the farm.
The regional government is setting up close to 500 temporary farmers markets, adding to the 100 that currently exist.
A government spokesman said: “It will increase the availability of essentials in abundance to citizens in every corner of the state and also ensure that farmers garner fair prices for their products and minimising the chance of distress selling.”
The eighth largest of India’s 28 internal states, it is also converting some 450 buses into mobile “Rythu Bazars” selling farm produce directly to the public during the coronavirus lockdown.
“This ensures that the supply of the essentials reaches even the most remote areas apart from helping authorities implement social distancing norms on the ground,” the government spokesperson told the India Today website.
“This further increases sale of Rythu Bazars benefiting the farmer at large.’’
In addition, more than 700 procurement centres – primarily buying Jowar, Red Gram, Bengal Gram, Maize and Turmeric – are being established in farming regions, cutting down the distance farmers have to travel to sell their produce and ensuring that even smallholders can trade their crops.
The authorities are also monitoring daily the prices food is being sold at, right down to village level, and has vowed to prevent goods being traded at below the Minimum Support Price.
Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy has pledged that no farmer in the state should face any issue during this time.
The developments come as the Indian central government has eased lockdown restrictions, allowing agricultural workers and businesses to begin operating again.
Currently, it is estimated by officials that a quarter of all food being sold in the state is being delivered directly to homes.
In order to stop abuses of the system, all vendors now have to display their prices, while the state has fixed the prices for a number of essentials, including rice, dal, oil and vegetables.