Kochi: All is not lost for the small-scale traders who have been on the run under the impact of the big-time retailers who have appeared on the scene with huge investments. Now the small traders can take cover under 'Nattupathayam,' a unique initiative launched by a merchants' association to take on the biggies.
The Mulanthuruthy Merchants' Association, affiliated to Vyapari-Vyavasyi Ekopana Samithi has initiated 'Nattupathayam' to support small-scale dealers who are unable to compete with big retail chains and are facing closure. The initiative was formally launched in February though it started operating from December last year.
Under the scheme, the association collects high-quality agriculture produce directly from farmers in other states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, clean it, pack it and distribute it to traders at reasonable price.
Through this, the traders will get good quality products and can avoid exploitation of middlemen.
A plant has been taken on lease at Salem in Tamil Nadu to mill and pack produce like rice, turmeric, chilly and coriander procured directly from farmers.
The products are marketed under the registered 'Nattupathayam' brand. More than 17 local residents have been given job opportunities in the Salem plant.
"We have initiated 'Nattupathayam' after realising the miserable condition of hundreds of traditional merchants in rural areas. The association conceptualised and implemented the scheme after several months of deliberations and efforts. A cooperative society was formed for the project. Initially, traders were sceptical and even criticised the proposal. But we could make 'Nattupathayam' a big success with more than 250 retailers from across Ernakulam as our registered customers," said Mr K. C. Joshy, president of Mulanthuruthy Merchants Association.
Traders are also given other benefits like loan up to Rs.50,000 and insurance coverage under the scheme.
"Considering its wider acceptance, the association is planning to extend the scheme to other districts," added Mr Joshy....