The 2023 grape season in Dindori, Nashik will be special for 6,000-odd farmers of the berry. For the first time, their produce will be sold in a market which will be owned and operated by them, without having to be at the mercy of traders.
From a verbal contract system, they will be graduating to an e-commerce platform that will track every grape that is traded, the price it is traded at and all negotiations with traders.
The farmer-owned Sahyadri Farmers Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) market is all set to launch operations in this grape season with trials set to begin in mid-January and roll smoothly by the time the season ends in mid-April. Sahyadri is the first farmer producer organisation in the country to get a license for a private agricultural produce market.
Vilas Shinde, chairman and managing director, Sahyadri, said lack of post-harvest and marketing infrastructure lead to traders dominating the relationship and putting farmers in a vulnerable position, with no recourse when payment defaults occur. All trade would now be routed through the platform with traders onboarded after a proper verification and KYC process, Shinde said. Around 50 traders are on board already and the target is to have 100.
The market will start with trading in grapes and resins. Shinde expects total trade on the market this January-April grape season to reach `100 crore and cross `500 crore in grapes and resin trade within the first year of operation.
The APMC will solely focus on horticulture crops and domestic trade which is grown extensively in the region. Tomatoes will be traded in the September-December period next year. With more competition and better price discovery, farmers could expect remunerative prices for their produce and faster payments, he said. Farmers would get access to a daily dashboard to view arrivals, prices and trade volumes.
This was developed in-house by the Sahyadri team.
Storage capacity is being expanded from 4,000 tonne to 20,000 tonne to improve the farmers’ holding capacity and enable off-season trade. The market will offer testing facilities, inputs, banking support and training support. Around `10 crore has already been invested and `25 crore will be invested over the next few months in the electronics platform, software and cold storage.
Shinde says while the benefits to farmers would be enormous, their challenge would be to get more and more traders onto the platform. If they can do this, they would be successful and other farmer producer organizations can replicate this model, Shinde said.
Sahyadri has about 17,000 farmers in its network who largely grow grapes with an annual production of 0.15 million tonne. They export around 20,000 tonne of grapes with the rest sent to the domestic market. They will now find an organized market next door for their produce. Farmers here also grow around 1,00,000 tonne of tomatoes which will soon be traded on their market.
With the opening of their market, the farmers would now have a presence in the entire value chain from farm to fork with their own producer company, post-harvest processing capabilities, contract manufacturing, export hub, their own retail brand and a retail network both online and offline, which is slowly taking shape.