Since the electronic national agriculture market (eNAM) project was launched in April 2016, only a minuscule part of the wholesale trade in farm commodities in the country has shifted to it while inter-mandi/interstate eNAM trade has remained a virtual non-starter. But even as the eNAM objective of empowering farmers with a wider buyer base hasn’t been met, there is a continued attempt to inflate the eNAM trade by adding in minimum support price (MSP) operations. This practice is rampant in Haryana, the only state where eNAM has picked up at least for intra-mandi trade and trading on the platform is claimed to be over a half of the state’s wholesale trade in farm goods.
Stating that the Haryana government has failed to stop field officials from showing government purchase of wheat at MSP as eNAM sales, a union agriculture ministry official told FE: “The practice is defeating the objective of the government. We wanted this (eNAM) platform to be a place to discover real price between farmers and traders.”
According to Food Corporation of India (FCI) data, Haryana has purchased a record 87.37 lakh tonnes of wheat this year for the central pool after the operation started from April 1, almost the entire crop that arrived in mandis. In all the three price columns on the eNAM portal — minimum, maximum and modal — officials have mostly entered `1,735 per quintal, which is the MSP of wheat.
Clearly, MSP purchases have been wrongly included in eNAM data.
Between April 1 and May 17, Haryana has shown 9.4 lakh tonnes of wheat (worth Rs 1,631 crore) as sales by farmers of the state on the eNAM platform. Mandis in at least 48 places including Ambala, Karnal, Bhiwani, Jhajjar, Jind, Panipat, Rewari, Rohtak, Sonepat and Taraori have uploaded the data of the MSP operation programme of FCI on the eNAM portal.
The inaccuracy of the eNAM data is also evident from the wide variations in prices recorded. At some places the wheat price has been put at a low of Rs 351 per quintal while in many other mandis it is as high as Rs 4,000 a quintal. In some entries at Narwana mandi on April 24, the maximum price of wheat has been put at a whopping Rs 17,355 a quintal!
Under eNAM, there should be 100% online bidding of commodities arriving in the mandis. The portal (eNAM) has been provisioned to not allow any offline entries, but there is no technical supervision since data has to be entered by mandi officials.
Around 60% of the trade captured on eNAM platform in Haryana since the project’s launch has been the MSP operations for paddy and wheat, according to sources. Wheat is purchased by the six procurement agencies — Food and Supplies Department (33%), Hafed (30%), Haryana Agro Industries (10%), Haryana Warehousing Corporation (10%), Confed (5%) and FCI (12%).
As of now, 585 mandis in 14 states have been connected with the eNAM platform. In Haryana, more than 50 mandis are linked with the electronic platform out of 107 principal market yards that facilitate direct selling by farmers.
No state has allowed interstate trading under eNAM so far and states like Uttar Pradesh have not even permitted trading between two districts on this platform.