The Maharashtra government has reiterated it would not be able to eliminate middlemen from the agricultural marketing, but is working out a system to provide relief to the farmers.
Currently, the farmers end up paying almost 3-6% commission to agents, who carry out auctions at the agricultural produce market committees (APMCs). Additionally, the farmers also end up paying about 12% for weighing, loading and unloading and market committee cess illegally, which is a huge burden on them. The farmer also never comes to know the real price for which the produce is sold.
Also, when it comes to perishable items such as fruits and vegetables, the farmers almost always have no bargaining power. By paying an aadat, an agent is bound by the law to pay money to farmers after receiving the goods.
In December 2014, the state had moved a proposal to shift this commission onto traders, but this saw a huge resistance, which made the government put a stay on this move.
However, the state will not be able to eliminate the role of the agent altogether as it is not in a position to bear the annual credit risk of almost Rs 40,000 crore that they currently bear from traders.
“We have planned the first meeting in this regard on January 15, where we have invited all stakeholders to talk on possible solutions for solving this issue of commission. There needs to be a system which is a combination of sharing commission between farmers and traders or a new system altogether,” said agriculture marketing minister Chandrakant Patil.
Patil, who was at the APMC market at Vashi on Tuesday, met the directors and discussed the issue.
In all, there are 305 APMCs across Maharashtra, which have an annual turnover of around Rs 37,000 crore and are controlled by agents and traders. The APMCs at Navi Mumbai, Pune, Lasalgaon in the Nashik district and Nagpur are largest.
“In the meeting at Vashi, we analysed that the state does not have the credit-holding capacity the agents have. Even if we have to get the entire process into the governments hands, we are in no state to take financial risks since all traders work on credit and it is impossible to hold money to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore annually,” said Patil.