Narendra Modi government has allocated Rs 200 crore for three years to set up an online national agriculture market by integrating 585 wholesale markets across India — a move that would help farmers realise better prices.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved a Central Sector Scheme for Promotion of National Agricultural Market through Agri-Tech Infrastructure Fund on Thursday.
“An amount of Rs 200 crore has been earmarked for the scheme from 2015-16 to 2017-18,” an official statement said.
The Department of Agriculture will set it up by creation of a common electronic platform deployable in selected regulated markets across the country.
“Now there will be one licence for entire state, there will be single point levy. There will be electronic auctions for price discovery. The impact will be that the entire state will become a market and the fragmented markets within the states would be abolished,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters.
Under the scheme, 585 selected regulated markets would be covered. The plan is to cover 250 mandis in current fiscal, 200 mandis in 2016-17 and 135 mandis in 2017-18.
“Seamless transfer of agriculture commodities within the state can take place. The market size for farmers would increase as he won’t be limited to a captive market,” Jaitley said.
The Rs 200 crore allocations includes provision for supplying software free of cost by agriculture department to the states and UTs and for cost of related hardware/ infrastructure to be subsidised by the Centre up to Rs 30 lakh per Mandi (other than for private mandis).
Agriculture Secretary Siraj Hussain informed that Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Gujarat have already agreed to join the Scheme, while Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are “very keen” to particuipate. Besides, the Centre is also in discussions with Uttar Pradesh.
Unifying the markets both at state and the national level would provide better price to farmers, improve supply chain, reduce wastages and create a unified national market through provision of the common e-platform, the statement said.
The statement said 585 regulated markets across the country will be integrated with the common e-platform to provide farmers and traders with access to opportunities for purchase/sale of agri-commodities at optimal prices in a transparent manner.
Private markets will also be allowed access to the e-platform thereby enhancing its outreach.
Jaitley said: “Agriculture market is a state subject… There are a lot of restrictions on movement of agriculture produce in the country. There are 585 regulated markets for the entire country. Those people who are in the business of agriculture market, today there is market specific licence”.
The Scheme would be applicable on all-India basis. “There is no state-wise allocation under the Scheme. However, desirous states would be required to meet the pre-requisites in terms of carrying out necessary agri-marketing reforms,” as per the official statement.
For integration with the e-platform, the states/UTs will need to undertake prior reforms in respect of a single licence to be valid across the state, single point levy of market fee and provision for electronic auction as a mode for price discovery, it said.
“The e-marketing platform should promote reform of the agricultural marketing sector and apart from promoting free flow of agri commodities across the country and should result in greater farmer satisfaction as prospects for marketing of his produce would be significantly enhanced,” it added.
The scheme will provide improved access to market related information and better price discovery through a more efficient, transparent and competitive marketing platform, which gives farmers access to a greater number of buyers within the state and from outside, through transparent auction processes.
It would also increase farmer’s access to markets through warehouse based sales and thus obviate the need to transport his produce to the mandi, it added.