Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) traders in Maharashtra called off their indefinite strike on Wednesday following a meeting with the state government.
Traders, who were agitating following an ordinance issued by the government to delist fruits and vegetables outside the scope of APMC and have been demanding a level playing field, will be allowed equal rights as farmers. Barring Nashik region, all the APMCs are expected to commence operations from Thursday.
A decision to this effect was arrived at after a delegation of traders from Mumbai APMC met state minister for cooperation and marketing Subhash Deshmukh at the ministry in Mumbai.
In the meeting held in the presence of state minister for revenue Chandrakant Patil and minister for agriculture and marketing Sadabhau Khot, the government did not budge from its stand on the recovery of commission (Adat).
Traders were demanding scrapping of the amendment with regard to the commission amount. APMCs are the lone platforms from which the farmers were allowed to sell so far.
Traders have been demanding unshackling of the rules because traders operating in the market are still bound by various rules and regulations under the Act.
They should also be removed so that there is a fair competition, traders had demanded. A committee of traders, bureaucrats and representatives of farmers is likely to be formed to decide the fine print of the procedure.
Cooperation minister Deshmukh said the state government will remain firm on its decision to charge the commission from the buyer instated of the farmers. “There were some misconceptions about the amendments and during the course of our talk, we cleared most of them.
Traders who are operating inside the marketyard are the ones who will be operating outside the marketyard,” he said. Instead of the market cess and other duties, the traders will have to pay a service tax to use the services of the APMC, he said.
A committee headed by the cooperation minister has also been announced which will suggest trade norms for both inside and outside marketyards. “The official notification of the committee will be out by August 6 and the committee will give its report in the next 45 days,” he said.
Other than the minister, the panel will see representations from the traders, commission agents, head loaders and other stakeholders of the wholesale markets.
According to Dilip Mohite Patil, president, Maharashtra Rajya Bazaar Samiti Mahasangh, the although the strike has been called off, the Mahasangh will approach the high court and file a write petition against the ordinance issued by the government.
Meanwhile, trading in Lasalgaon —one of the biggest onion hubs in the country — and other APMCs in Nashik, however, will continue to remain shut since the traders from this region are not happy with the outcome of the meeting. Barring Nashik, all the 302 odd APMCs will commence operations from Thursday.
According to Rajendra Shelke, president, Onion and Potato Market, Vashi, traders have agreed to commence trading in the larger interests of farmers and agreement of the government to allow a level playing field for traders. Traders will now have to pay a service tax for the use of APMC premises, he said.