Maharashtra's agricultural sector undergoing vast changes

18 Oct 2016 | By Sneha Johny
Maharashtra's changing agricultural landscape

Maharashtra's agricultural sector is witnessing robust changes, after the popular farmer-to-consumer markets and agricultural reforms were effected.

Currently, the farmers cater to consumers directly, across 31 farmer markets in the state.

The state's Agriculture Marketing Board plans to launch another 100 farmer markets across the state.

After attempting to clear regulator hurdles for farmers, the government's reforms have helped farmers garner better earnings.

In context: Maharashtra's changing agricultural landscape

15 Aug 2016Mumbai sees its first farmer-to-consumer market

In August this year, Maharashtra's Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis opened the state's first farmer-to-consumer market.

This came in the wake of the government's attempts to free various farmers from relying on traders and middlemen, and thus getting exploited.

The direct market was opened in the state legislative building's premises, and was reported to be working every Sunday, with around 35 tonnes of produce stocked.

AboutWhat are APMCs?

Maharashtra's Agricultural Produce Marketing Regulation Act effected agricultural produce marketing committees, who handled all farm produce in the state till July.

These committees work in a way that the farmers cannot sell their produce directly to consumers, and have to go through a trader or a middleman.

The trader auctions the produce, which creates scope for the farmer to get exploited through unfair means.

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Why did the government establish the farmer-to-consumer markets?

Increasing competitionWhy did the government establish the farmer-to-consumer markets?

The APMC system required farmers to pay for various services such as transport, loading, weighing and market commission, which most often goes to the traders or agents involved.

Sometimes, this cost is often passed over to the consumer.

The government's new model of farmers selling directly to consumers would help bring about competition to the APMC markets and also make the system more transparent.

18 Oct 2016Maharashtra's agricultural sector undergoing vast changes

Higher earnings through farmer-to-consumer markets

"Today, we carried produce worth Rs7,000 and made around Rs2,000. On an average, on each truck that we load with produce worth Rs6,000-7,000 we make Rs1,400-1,700. This is our net income after deducting transport-expense", says a farmer, stating the earnings are better than APMC markets.

APMC's effectivenessWas APMC itself the problem?

Most agriculture experts say that APMC itself is not the problem, but instead, it is the many regulations that hamper operations across APMC markets, and create room for malpractices.

Experts highlight the need for an improved supply-chain process, and initiate methods whereby private investments are generated to improve competition.

Currently, due to the low margins from farm produce, private investors are skeptical to invest.

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Maharashtra records massive revenue from agriculture

"The entire agriculture market-turnover in Maharashtra is worth almost Rs 1 trillion. The APMC markets complete transactions worth Rs 55,000 crore; while transactions worth Rs 30,000 crore per annum take place at smaller informal markets", said Maharashtra's former cooperation and marketing minister.