The southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh was recently bifurcated to form a new state - Telangana. Although both the states have varying topography, vegetation and climate, the economy of both is based mainly on agriculture. While rice is the main crop, the farmers in both the states also grow a variety of other pulses, fruits and vegetables. Way back in the late 1990s, then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, had started Rythu Bazaar - a farmer's market initiative which aimed to reduce the influence and control of middlemen thereby ensuring that farmers received the profits themselves. The initiative was a success and even today weekly Rythu Bazaars (Rythu = farmer, Bazaar = market) are held in most towns and cities in both these states.
These weekly farmer's markets are not only a good place to buy fresh, local produce but also a photographer's delight and a lovely to interact with locals. My recent visit to one such Rythu Bazaar turned out to be a wonderful expedition. Fruits and vegetables in myriad colours and shapes, rows of farmers selling their produce, the banter of bargain, the smell of fresh fruits/flowers and the crowd of people was a mix of chaos and excitement. When I saw the heaps of fresh Capsicum and Aubergine, I must admit I was in awe. It looked so beautiful and inviting. The leafy greens and the bright red chillies were laid out in a row and complemented each other well. The fragrance of Mint and Coriander tickled my palate and stimulated my appetite. Some of the vendors were very talkative and eager to explain about the vegetables they grow and how they have benefited from these weekly markets. It was a nice way to get an insight into the lives of these small farmers.
For those who love fruits and vegetables, these markets are the ideal place to find local farmers and their produce. If you are visiting Southern India and are happy to brave the crowds and chaos, visit a Rythu Bazaar. It will be a different experience!
Here are some pictures from my visit to a Rythu Bazaar.