Private markets in Maharashtra are slowly beginning to gain ground. The turnover of private markets has gone up by `1,500 crore to touch `5,000 crore for the financial year 2018-19, top officials in the State Marketing Directorate has said.
Maharashtra is among the few states to have encouraged the concept of private markets to take on the monopoly of Agriculture Produce Market Committees(APMCs). As a result, licences were issued for establishment of private markets in the state, A L Gholkar, joint director, marketing, State Marketing Directorate, told FE.
Maharashtra now has 57 private markets. These markets are in direct competition with Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) which were established to ensure that the farmer interest was protected.
The history of the APMC Act suggests that for the farmers to sell and for traders to buy, a transparent system has to be in place so that trade goes on smoothly and unorganised farmers, at the receiving end of a system of exploitation, are provided succour. Under the Constitution, agriculture is a state subject. That is why changes in the APMC Act is mandated with the state government. Maharashtra had framed this law in 1963. In every district and tehsil, the state government had allotted land to agriculture food grain mandis. There are a total of 307 agriculture growth trading yards and 600 sub-yards.
Private markets are relatively new with a history of 5-7 years while APMCs have been in existence for 50 years, Gholkarsaid. The turnover of APMCs in the state is nearly `55,000 crore. Although a turnover of `5,000 crore in comparison may seem small, a start has been made and if encouraged, such markets could give tough competition to APMCs and also give farmers an alternate, industry people said. Govardhan Farm Produce, based out of Jalgaon, in the state has reported a turnover of `233 crore.
Gholkar pointed out that although Maharashtra took the lead in establishing private markets, there was no way the marketing directorate could monitor the functioning of these markets and therefore very little data was available. In the absence of branch level system, the directorate has to depend on the district deputy registrars for whom this is an additional charge, he said.