The horticulture department of the Odisha government will soon come up with tenders for setting up of vegetable retail chains in towns like Sambalpur, Rourkela and Berhampur, after a similar initiative in Bhubaneswar.
The department has already facilitated setting up of two vegetable stores, branded as ‘Udyan Fresh’ in the capital city with the help of private players and aims to open at least 18 more. In the adjacent Cuttack city, it has plans to open five such stores.
“For Sambalpur, Rourkela and Berhampur towns, we have not decided how many stores will be there. We will notify it in our next expression of interest advertisements,” said K B Dash, an official dealing with the ‘Udyan Fresh’ scheme, in the Directorate of Horticulture, Government of Odisha.
These stores are being set up as part of a scheme of the Central agricultural ministry, launched in 2011. Known as vegetable initiative for urban clusters (VIUC) plan under the Rastriya Krishi Vikash Yojna, it has little more than Rs 12 crore provision for Odisha in the current fiscal.
The scheme envisages development of vegetable clusters and opening up of retail stores for ensuring supply of good quality vegetables to a city or town in every state having a population of one million and above. In the case of states with smaller population, the state capital city or township having less than one million population are also covered.
As per 2011 census, no city in Odisha has a population over one million. However, the combined population of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack goes beyond two million, according to an estimate.
The expression of interest will be open for domestic and international investors too, informed the horticulture official.
“Companies like Reliance Fresh can apply for the stores like it has done in Andhra Pradesh. Foreign investors too can apply after the recent central government decision,” said Das, referring to the latest announcement by the Union government allowing foreign players to invest in retail sector.
Under the VIUC scheme, the promoters would be subsidised for setting up selling stores, buying refrigerated vehicles and establishing cold stores, apart from buying farmers’ produce. So far, the state horticulture department has identified three vegetable clusters within the 100 Km radius of Bhubaneswar.