Mumbai: The private markets still play a small role in agricultural produce trade, even after four years when Maharashtra removed fruits and vegetables from the scope of its Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) and decentralized the selling process of products by farmers.
The turnover of the state’s total 305 APMCs was Rs 48,429 crore whereas 60 private markets and 1,165 holding private licenses to buy directly from farmers’ turnover amounted to 8,360 crore in 2019-20. This means APMC turnover is 479% more than that of the private players. Thus it concludes that the deregulation of APMCs did not lead to farmers switching to private markets.
Currently, Maharashtra government showed disagreement over the logic behind the Centre’s new farmers Bill on APMCs which argues that monopolistic mandis are blocking private markets and depriving farmers of choices. Somewhat, state government stand on farmer bill is influenced by the APMC turnover statistics.
According to the data by Centre’s National Sample Survey Office, the bulk of crops don’t even reach markets as it is sold at the village level to traders or dealers. However, when it comes to markets, APMCs are the first choice of the farmers in Maharashtra.
The Model APMC Act of 2003 was first adopted by Maharashtra to create base for agricultural marketing reforms. The delisting of fruits and vegetables from the purview of APMCs was first done in 2016, when the BJP-Shiv Sena government was in power. The state assembly passed a bill to remove all agricultural produce from the purview of APMCs, but the bill was defeated in the Upper House in 2018.
During the BJP-Sena’s tenure, the deregulation of APMCs had political undertones since bulk of them are controlled by the NCP and Congress. The data also shows that turnover of the state’s APMCs increased the year after they were deregulated.
The turnover was Rs 48,659 crore in 2016-17 whereas in 2017-18, it rose to Rs 51,003 crore. While four years after fruits and vegetables were delisted from APMCs, their turnover declined by 4% to Rs 48,429 crore, the arrivals dipped from 2,158 lakh quintals to 1,638 lakh quintals in the same period.