The electronic -national agricultural market (e-NAM), which was launched with huge fanfare, has raised expectations about giving farmers better rates and linking Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) across the country. Alongside, another player that has been on operation for around five years, NCDEX e-Markets, has silently been making waves. Maharashtra has been working with the World Bank to automate some of its APMCs. It is now clear that markets in the country are taking the online route.
A couple of years ago, Karnataka took the mandi (farmers’ market) system to the virtual world when it set up ReMS as a joint venture between the state government and NCDEX e-Markets or NeML (formerly NCDEX Spot Exchange). As of March 2016, ReMS had integrated online 105 of the 155 APMCs across 27 of the 30 districts in Karnataka through a single licensing system. This has created what the state calls a unified market platform (UMP).
Now, the model is being replicated in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Of the 10 markets approved by the government, Adoni — one of the largest producers of cotton with a substantial presence in ginning and textile industry — was the first mandi to go virtual in Andhra Pradesh. The mandi, which started with the trading of groundnut, subsequently began trading in cotton, castor, sunflower, blackgram and ajwain under the NCDEX e-Market platform that reported an annual income of R9 crore annually, has seen a rise in income to R17 crore in 2016-17. The target this year is to take it to R18 crore, says Rama Rao, deputy director, Adoni APMC.
“Before the e-marketing system, the sale was done manually through the tender system. Arrivals were recorded manually, where there was scope for leakage. Traders had a syndicate and offered low prices to farmers and the farmer got his money after a few days. Now all arrivals are recorded online, tenders are conducted electronically and now the farmer has the right to refuse to sell if he does not agree to the price quoted by traders,” Rama Rao explained.
Krishna Y, manager (business group), NeML, says such a system ensures there are no malpractices. Farmers also claim that they have been getting better returns. Of the 190 markets in Andhra Pradesh, 40 are regulated and 10 of them are online. Another 30 are in process of going live in the next couple of months. While 11 of these markets come under e-NAM, the remaining 19 are under expected to come under NeML.
The NCDEX e-Markets operates its platform on the same lines as e-NAM but, with the difference that in the markets where it operates, there has been training of the various participants from the mandi and the software has been re-worked with small details right from the font size and display from the various participants, and has evolved over a long period of time.
The APMC in Nizamabad, which was using the e-platform provided by NCDEX e-Markets under the mandi modernisation programme, recently moved to e-NAM after the state’s order. There was a protest by farmers who demanded the discontinuation of the e-NAM system and a switch to NCDEX platform. Bharavi Mishra , vice-president, e-NAM, says it will be unfair to make comparisons since NeML has a five-year head start over e-NAM and his company has already been through the learning curve.
R Ramaseshan, vice chairman, Rashtriya eMarket Services (ReMS), says while eNAM was envisaged as a single market for the entire country, there is room for more players who should work together. “One needs to understand that the markets need to be re-engineered, and address their pain points to make them more efficient. These are not technology projects but technology in these are a means to an end,” he said when asked to compare both the platforms.