The e-platform of National Agriculture Market (NAM) has achieved little in terms of multiplying the farmers’ choice of buyers and upping their income — let alone inter-state trade, the fledgling facility hasn’t even let them sell their produce to far-away mandis in their own states.
According to sources, only 250 regulated wholesale markets spread across 10 states under the respective Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees have so far been integrated with the NAM platform, while the country has 585 such mandis. And just 1.6 lakh farmers — of an estimated 14 crore in the country — and less than 50,000 traders and 26,000 commission agents have got registered with NAM. Worse, even among these NAM-linked mandis, electronic trade is limited to very few commodities, in most markets to just one or two.
“The idea of a pan-Indian agriculture market is really progressive for ensuring better returns for the farmers. However, a huge amount of groundwork needs to be done to translate NAM into reality,” Ashok Gulati, former chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and chair professor for agriculture, ICRIER said.
He said the bigger challenge is to put in place system of scientific grading of agricultural commodities at the market yards, transparent price settlement mechanism and above all, rationalisation and imposition of an uniform mandi taxes across the states.
Though agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh on Thursday announced that 400 APMCs would be integrated with NAM by March 2017, few are convinced that this is achievable unless the process is accelerated. As many as 18 states/UTs, including Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, have fully or partially modified their APMC laws for allowing electronic trade within the mandi premises. The states which are yet to do so include Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, while eight other states/UTs, including Bihar, Kerala and Manipur, do not have any APMC laws, and the farmers in these states are therefore deprived of the NAM facility.
Singh urged states to make necessary changes to APMC laws for ensuring integration to NAM, while he also appealed to those states where the APMC Act does not exist, to join the the national platform by framing necessary regulations.
Under NAM, quality parameters for 69 agricultural and horticultural commodities, including cereals, pulses, oilseeds, spices, fruits and vegetables have been notified for trading.
In April, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched NAM with an aim to integrate 585 APMCs under one electronic platform by March, 2018.
After integration of all the mandis, agriculture ministry officials say NAM would increase the choice for a farmer after he brings in his produce to a mandi. “Local traders can bid for the produce, as also traders on the electronic platform sitting in other states. The farmer may choose to accept either the local offer or online. In either case, the transaction will be on the books of the local mandi and they will continue to earn the transaction fee,” the official said.