The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected both demand and supply chain of commodities among the rural areas and has caused regular markets to function partially in accordance to the protocols imposed by the government, thereby causing economic hardships for many.
In direct response to this hardship, the Farm on Wheels (FOW) initiative has been initiated by the members of the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) groups of different communities and facilitated by NESFAS under the project, “No One Shall Be Left Behind”, to create sustainable livelihood for farmers as well as reaching the consumers. The need to safeguard food security and also the ability to market local produce right from buying to selling has been one of the main objectives of the FOW.
Rajesh B. Marak, a PGS member from Ambaregitok PGS group, Darichikgre, West Garo Hills started the Farm on Wheels initiative on 2nd July 2021 where he visited 4 localities in his district to sell fresh-organic vegetables. The produce that is marketed includes cultivated vegetables such as bitter gourd, maize, pumpkin, cilantro, apolka (wild bitter gourd), spinach and chayote produced in his kitchen gardens and farm fields. Apart from that, cattle-rearing was done for milk production where milk is being produced and packaged at home and sold to regular customers of different neighbouring communities.
Farm on Wheels has been a stark contrast as compared to selling in local markets where space is limited and not much produce is sold. However, because of COVID-19, farmers were seriously affected. The launch of this initiative has helped farmers overcome these challenges while simultaneously providing a platform for them to sell their produce directly to the consumers and create sustainable livelihood opportunities for themselves.
This initiative aims at allowing small-scale businesses to function while adhering to safety norms and ensures the urgent need to safeguard domestic food security.
“Farm on Wheels has been beneficial as I could understand the customers’ needs and also, adopting a new kind of business has been a boon for me during this pandemic ”, shared Rajesh B Marak.
While addressing the customers appraisal, they expressed, “Post-pandemic has been difficult to get access to clean and local food which is good for health. This initiative has given us a chance to not only get healthy food but also helped prevent ourselves from crowded places by getting food at our doorstep.”