A majority of the agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) in Nashik region, including Lasalgaon, have decided to keep markets shut for almost a week until November 14. The move has been taken by the APMCs in the wake of the Centre’s decision to scrap R500 and R1,000 notes in a major assault on black money.
This could lead to a possible shortage of perishable commodities in the market and a price rise in the near term, officials of several market committees said. Significantly, Vashi APMC in Navi Mumbai has decided to keep operations open.
Most wholesale markets in Maharashtra opened on Wednesday to a situation where traders and commission agents did not have the money to make payments to farmers. While, in some markets, the commission agents and farmers arrived at a decision to accept the commodities from farmers and make payments at a later date, most markets in Nashik region have decided to close operations until some clarity emerges on banking operations.
Trading in onions, potatoes and foodgrains will not take place while trading in perishables such as vegetables is likely to continue although there is no clarity on how the commission agents would make payments to farmers.
According to Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon APMC, there was no money with traders and commission agents to make payments to farmers on Wednesday and the APMC had therefore decided to keep markets shut until November 14. “If the operations are run on trust and credit for a long period, the credit amount is likely to shoot up and it may be difficult for traders to make arrangements for money to make payments,” he said.
The situation was similar in the neighbouring Pimpalgaon market, another major wholesale market for onion and tomato where traders had no liquidity. “Usually commission agents need at least R25 lakh to R30 lakh cash in hand for daily transactions and if banks do not give them money, they will find it difficult to operate. Even if the banks open, traders and commission agents may not be given such high amounts required for their operations,” Dilip Bankar, chairman, Pimpalgaon APMC, said.
Of the 14 market committees in Nashik region, Chandwad APMC is yet to take a decision on keeping operations shut. According to Atmaram Kumbharde, chairman, Chandwad APMC and a BJP leader, they had managed to convince farmers to accept payments at a later date. “ Most markets are closed till November 14. We have directed traders and commission agents to issue cheques to farmers and when the banks open, the farmers can either choose to deposit the cheque or return the cheque to traders and accept cash payments. Markets were already shut for eight days on account of Diwali and another closure at this point for a week could affect the summer onion arrivals,” he said.
Ashok Hande, a major trader at Vashi APMC, said it is not correct to keep markets shut since the farmers bring in perishables. “We may have to bear with the situation as the Prime Minister has stated since most traders and farmers carry currency in high denominations. Let us see how the situation emerges in the next couple of days,” he said.
Dilip Mohite Patil, chairman, Pune APMC said that although the market woke up to a near panic situation on Wednesday morning with some farmers having to throw away their vegetables, the market in Pune may remain open and traders and farmers may do business based on mutual trust.
Shriram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India said that operations were badly hit due to paucity of money and it would be difficult to quantify the extent of the damage.