Maharashtra to give land for mandis

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New Delhi | Published: August 17, 2016 6:26:03 AM

Realising from Delhi’s dismal experience that mere removal of fruits and vegetables (F&V) from the purview of the law governing marketing of agriculture produce won’t automatically destroy...

Under the plan, farmer groups and private companies will set up the markets on land made available by the state from its pool of vacant (surplus) land. (PTI)Under the plan, farmer groups and private companies will set up the markets on land made available by the state from its pool of vacant (surplus) land. (PTI)

Realising from Delhi’s dismal experience that mere removal of fruits and vegetables (F&V) from the purview of the law governing marketing of agriculture produce won’t automatically destroy the trade monopoly of the so-called APMC mandis unless adequate new market infrastructure is also built, the Maharashtra government has decided to facilitate the setting up of several new mandis in the state’s major urban centres. Under the plan, farmer groups and private companies will set up the markets on land made available by the state from its pool of vacant (surplus) land. Once these new markets come up, farmers will get the choice to sell their produce unencumbered by the licensed wholesale traders and commission agents who hold an exploitative grip on F&V trade.

According to Maharashtra’s minister for agriculture and horticulture, Sadashiv Ramchandra Khot, the new mandis would come up in and around Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and other cities. “We will be seeking support from Nabard (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) in setting up alternative mandis,” Khot told FE. Last week, the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board gave 15 direct marketing licences to registered farmer organisations in Pune. The state government has now started to give thrust on creating more such bodies so that farmers themselves could form the agriculture marketing network in the state.

Despite pressure from the powerful lobby of licensed wholesale traders and commission agents Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis government de-listed F&V from its Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act in early July via an ordinance (the state assembly ratified it last month) but trading volumes have hardly started shifting from the state’s 305-odd APMC-regulated mandis. (Including Maharashtra, 13 states have F&V out of their respective APMC laws while another seven states/UTs have dismantled such laws altogether).

The Vashi mandi, the country’s second largest wholesale F&V market with a daily trading volume of 6,000 tonnes, continues to as vibrant as ever as farmers in nearby areas have nowhere else to go. As reported by FE earlier, Delhi’s Azadpur mandi, the country’s largest (with daily F&V sales of more than 13,000 tonnes), is yet to lose significant volumes to new markets even though the state government removed F&V from the purview of its APMC law in September 2014. Daily arrivals of F&V items at Azadpur mandi went up from 12,758 tonne in 2014-15 to 13,300 tonnes in 2015-16.

Gr7

The Maharashtra government had issued an ordinance removing F&V marketing from the APMC Act in January, but was forced to withdraw it in the face of trader’s protests. In May 2012, the then NCP-Congress government had issued a similar draft notification but it could not be finalised as the NCP cadres themselves blocked it.

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