Stiff opposition from the 300-odd agriculture produce market committees (APMC) in Maharashtra has prevented the government there from implementing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s suggestion that Congress-ruled states remove fruit and vegetables from the purview of the Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act by January 15.
Maharashtra state agriculture and marketing minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil confirmed on Tuesday that while the state had “notified’ the delisting of fruits and vegetables from the APMC Act last year — the first part of the process — the government was meeting all stakeholders and addressing their concerns. Vikhe-Patil insisted a decision would be taken soon.
After Azadpur in Delhi — no longer ruled by the Congress — Mumbai’s Vashi is the country’s largest fruit and vegetables market. While Azadpur handles 40,000-50,000 tonnes of the commodities a day, Vashi gets 200,000-40,000 tonnes a day.
Others in the government are less sanguine about the speed of the final decision. While Maharashtra agriculture marketing director Deepak Taware told FE that they were discussing the possible impact on both farmers and traders, the problem was that farmers have no other place to sell their fruits and vegetables. A final decision, Tawade said, would have too wait till the issues raised by the Vashi traders are resolved. Vikhe-Patil added that traders had little to worry about since they would remain in the market, only they would lose their monopoly. Traders who had announced a strike on January 8 postponed it on the assurance of a discussion.
As in Maharashtra, little headway has been made in some other Congress-ruled states like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Kerala. Kerala agriculture minister KP Mohanan indicated to FE it would take at least two more months since the process involved all krishi bhavans at the grass-root level.
The Karnataka government had in July last year passed a Bill to modify the Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation and Development) Act,1966, which included the provision to remove perishables from the APMC.
Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, two key fruit producers, have acted on Gandhi’s advice. While Uttarakhand has delisted fruits and vegetables from its APMC Act, Himachal has abolished the existing 1% market fee applicable in the mandis.
Traders said the Vashi market caters to close to 2 crore people in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and other areas, and farmers bring in their produce from various states to the sell in the huge wholesale mandis. “Because of our regulations,