Manipur: Ukhrul’s Ava Market strives for sustainable livelihood

Ukhrul: Popularly known as Ava Market (Zaoranao Shinshim), a women-run market in Manipur’s Ukhrul district aims to promote locally produced food items, including fresh vegetables, wild plants, and herbs, to support farmers. This market has not only created a platform for women to conduct business transactions but also given them financial independence to support their families.

The market was constructed and started functioning in 2019 by the N Biren Singh-led government after the success of Ima Keithel (mother’s market), Asia’s largest market solely run by all women, in Imphal. Successfully operating such a market also sets an example of how women play a vital role in the state’s improving economy.

Currently, Ava Market, situated in the heart of the town, hosts approximately 140 women vendors. Out of these, 110 stalls exclusively sell vegetables, with a few eateries also present. Around 30 stalls engage in second-hand clothing businesses, occupying a separate area on the next floor of the market complex.

During a recent visit to the market, Soso Zimik, the market’s chairperson, explained that the women vendors strive to provide fresh vegetables and other farm-produced products year-round. However, due to the district’s one-time cropping system, they are compelled to source vegetables such as tomatoes, ladyfingers, and onions from Imphal or even Dimapur in Nagaland during the off-season.

Soso Zimik added, “In addition to vegetables, we also sell locally grown fruits like kiwi, apples, peaches, avocados, plums, and mangoes during their respective seasons. However, we have to source apples and other fruits from elsewhere when the local season is over.”

The market is also renowned for offering a variety of indigenous food items such as hornets, hao machi (locally made salt), dried wild meat, dried fish, and even kachak (larvae) from time to time.

Each woman vendor conducts daily business transactions ranging from Rs 3000 to 10,000. During peak seasons, this figure can even reach Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per day, according to Soso Zimik.

Sterline, a mother of six children from a remote village in Kamjong district, has been involved in this business for the past 5 years. She expresses her satisfaction at being able to assist her husband in supporting their family. Her stall, brimming with fresh green vegetables, consistently attracts customers and facilitates sustainable business transactions.

Sterline stated, “Local farmers supply green vegetables like lettuce, spinach, celery, pak choi, cabbage, and more on a daily basis. Sometimes, I struggle to meet the demand of customers due to the high demand for these vegetables in town.”

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Another noteworthy feature of Ava Market is the presence of eating joints set up in one corner, which has further boosted the market’s overall business activity.

In conclusion, Ava Market plays a crucial role in providing much-needed economic growth for local residents and offers an easy means of conducting business transactions for both buyers and sellers of locally produced fresh vegetables.

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