As many as 91 Agriculture Produce Market Committees ( APMCs) are running into losses, reveals a recent study conducted by the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB).
The MSAMB has recommended and accordingly sent a proposal to the state marketing directorate for closure of 41 APMCs which include APMCs located in Marathwada, Konkar, North and Western Maharashtra, according to senior officials of the board. The 305 APMCs in Maharashtra were established with an aim of providing a secure marketing system for farmers. The APMCs were established by the state government for regulating the marketing of different kinds of agricultural produce for the same market area or any part thereof.
The Maharashtra Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development & Regulation) Act was passed in the year 1963, with a view to regulate the marketing of agricultural produce in market areas. The market committees are engaged in development of market yards for the benefit of agriculturists and buyers. Various agricultural produce commodities are regulated under the Act.
Currently, there are 305 APMCs with main markets and 624 sub markets. During 2017-18, as per income out of 305 APMCs, contribution of 282 APMCs was fixed to Rs 35.38 crore.
When contacted, MSAMB MD Sunil Pawar said the marketing board had only surveyed and studied the facts, and submitted the report to the director of marketing and that he is the regulatory authority to take the proper call.
According to officials, the market committees are categorised as per turnover. There are around 150 A category markets in the state with a turnover above Rs 1 crore, 71 B Class APMCs with a turnover in the Rs 50 lakh-Rs 1 crore range, 39 C class APMCs with a turnover of Rs 25-Rs 50 lakh and 46 D class APMCs with a turnover less than Rs 25 lakh.
Although the C and D category APMCs have space available, these lack basic infrastructure facilities and therefore, there are no regular arrivals of agricultural produce. As a result, the market income suffers and these markets find it difficult to raise staff salaries as well because of absence of income, officials revealed.
The MSAMB has, therefore, recommended that the loss-making mandis should either be closed down or merged into larger markets. There are seven APMCs in the state that do not have land of their own for the mandi and exist only on paper. Around 19 market committees do not have their own offices, the report reveals.
The state totally has around 305 market committees and 624 market sub-committees. In 2018-19, the total turnover of the APMCs in the state was reported at Rs 44,713 crore. The market committees reported an income of Rs 731 crore and the working capital requirements came up to Rs 594,58 crore.
Significantly, after liberalising and de-regulating agricultural markets, the government of Maharashtra had relaxed norms to create multiple marketing channels to allow firms to purchase directly from farmers, bypassing intermediaries. The government had begun offering direct marketing licences, private marketing licences and single licences with the aim of encouraging multiple channels for marketing agri-produce and inviting bids through an online system. The APMC markets normally complete transactions worth Rs 55,000 crore in a year.
Transactions worth Rs 30,000 crore per annum take place at smaller informal markets. Private contracts worth Rs 20,000 crore are signed outside these two markets. There are 40,000 adtiyas in Maharashtra. The state has 305 principal and 603 secondary APMC market yards.
The APMC Act mandates that these markets must have facilities like auction halls, warehouses, weigh bridges, shops for retailers, police station, post office, bore-wells, farmer amenity centres and a soil-testing laboratory.
However, most of the APMC markets offer minimalof these facilities and the systems to buy produce from farmers, auction it, and sell to wholesalers and retailers through traders are very opaque and they leave enormous scope for malpractices.
According to some officials, which is why these channels are being encouraged. Until date some 700-800 direct marketing licences have been issued. Forty-five private market licences have been given and single licences as well have been issued to traders and exporters. The plan is to take the number of direct marketing licences to 1,000 to ensure that alternative marketing channels are a strong option to traditional APMCs. The state has 900 farmer-producer organisations, wherein agriculturists come together to sell their produce.
Source: Financial Express