Persisting rural distress, despite recent years’ liberal hikes in minimum support prices (MSPs) for farm produce, is attributable to the huge gap between the prices realised by farmers for items out of the MSP purview and those the consumers pay. Despite many states, including Delhi, removing fruits and vegetables from the purview of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act, wholesale markets of the kind where the producers can sell items directly to bulk buyers like big retailers are yet to pose a competition to traditional wholesale points like the capital’s Azadpur mandi, afflicted with cartelised operations by the traders.
As a solution to the vexed issue, the Small Farmers’ Agri-business Consortium (SFAC), promoted by the Union ministry of agriculture, will soon launch an online platform to enable producer organisations to sell fresh fruits and vegetables directly to bulk buyers in the national capital region. Registered farmers’ groups such as farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and big retailers like Reliance Fresh and Big Bazaar would be allowed to use the platform for supply/sourcing of their daily requirements of fruits and vegetables.
Promoted as first spot exchange for fresh fruits and vegetables, the SFAC, which is also setting up ‘Kisan Mandi’ in Delhi, will ensure settlement of payments to farmers and delivery of goods to buyers as the mandi operator. “We have started registration of both buyers and sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables and will be formally launching the online platform by next month,” Parvesh Sharma, managing director, SFAC, told FE.
Sharma said a few locations in the NCR will be covered initially under the plan and the facility (for delivery and settlement) would gradually be extended to other localities in the capital. Resident welfare associations can also place orders for the fresh fruits and vegetables using SFAC online platform.
Following the delisting of fruits and vegetables from the APMC Act purview, farmers now take their produce to buyers without using traditional mandis across Delhi, thus saving at least 7% tax. But the farmer mandi is yet to acquire a sizeable chunk of the wholesale sales due to operational issues and inadequate infrastructure.