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No exchange, no sale at vegetable markets: Maharashtra farmers remain cashless and voiceless

After the announcement, the shortage of smaller denomination currency led to a sharp fall in prices of

mumbai Updated: Nov 18, 2016 01:37 IST
Yogesh Joshi
Yogesh Joshi
Hindustan Times
Traders wait for customers at APMC market in Navi Mumbai on Monday.(Bachchan Kumar)

Pune For years, Suhas Gogawale, a farmer from Gogalwadi in Pune district, had a fixed routine – supply vegetables to the mandi (market) in the morning, count the cash by around 10am and then return home. But PM Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetize Rs500 and Rs1,000 banknotes has changed it all.

After the announcement, the shortage of smaller denomination currency led to a sharp fall in prices of fruits and vegetables. The traders have now asked farmers to not bring their produce owing to the drop in prices and lack of currency.

“We are stuck in a difficult situation. On the one hand, the vegetable produce in the farm is ready for cutting. But we can’t go ahead with it as there is no point taking it to the agriculture produce market committee (APMC). Traders say they don’t have the cash to purchase our vegetables,” said another farmer Madhukar Gogawale, who produces bitter gourd, tomato and bottle gourd on his 14-acre farm.

With the halt in supply of money from buyers to farmers, the rural economy has taken a hit.

The number of vehicles supplying vegetables to Pune APMC came down by 40% on Tuesday, compared to the previous week, claim sources from the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB).

The problem, farmers feel, may aggravate further with the district central cooperative banks not being allowed to exchange the higher currency by smaller denominations notes. These banks, considered to be the backbone of rural economy, have been barred from carrying out transactions, as many of them have not completed the know-your-customer formalities by taking PAN and other details.

In Nashik, many onion growers did not bring their produce to APMCs on Sunday and Monday, as there was not enough cash with traders. Jaydatta Holkar, chairman at APMC, Nashik, said, “We have stopped buying onions for the past two days.”

“Our vegetable produce is not getting good price despite demand. Neither can we exchange old currency from the district central cooperative bank, nor can we withdraw money from our accounts. It is a really tough time,” said Ramesh Kondhe, another farmer from Khed Shivapur.

First Published: Nov 17, 2016 10:36 IST