The Digital India initiative might be a game-changer in many aspects, but when it comes to agri marketing, the e-platform of the National Agriculture Market (NAM), launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April this year, has seen only tepid response.
NAM is yet to provide farmers’ choice of buyers within states, let alone allowing inter-state trade, which would have boosted agricultural income. Sources told FE that only 250 regulated wholesale markets (the country has 585 such mandis) spread across 12 states under the respective agricultural produce marketing committees (APMCs) have so far been integrated with the NAM platform. However, trading is being carried out at present only in 220 mandis.
NAM has achieved a trade turnover of only R1,825 crore so far. Of this, Haryana’s 54 mandis have achieved a trading volume of R1,521 crore. Telangana’s 44 mandis integrated with NAM have reported a trading of R218 crore. The remaining mandis integrated with NAM have seen a lower trading volume.
Only 3.6 lakh farmers — of an estimated 14 crore in the country — and less than 50,000 traders and 27,000 commission agents have got registered with NAM.
Even among these NAM-linked mandis, electronic trade is limited to very few commodities.
“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, had said.
He had noted that the bigger challenge is to put in place a system of scientific grading of agricultural commodities at the market yards, transparent price settlement mechanism and, above all, rationalisation and imposition of uniform mandi taxes across the states. Though agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh had earlier 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 and 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 that are yet to do so include Odisha, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam, while eight other states and UTs, including Bihar, Kerala and Manipur, do not have any APMC laws, and farmers in these states are deprived of the NAM facility.
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 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.