The Delhi government has issued a notification allowing the opening of new wholesale markets in the capital, which will be outside the purview of the three existing Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) markets.
“Regulations of marketing of fruits and vegetables shall cease beyond the market yards of APMC with immediate effect,” the government notification states. Delhi has three APMC markets at Azadpur, Keshopur and Shahdara.
“This is step towards deregulating fruits and vegetables from the APMC,” Delhi Chief Secretary Deepak Mohan Spolia said.
Government sources said the changes will give farmers a wider option to sell their produce. If they sell through APMC, farmers have to abide by APMC rules. By being allowed to sell in other markets, determination of the prices will be outside the purview of APMC, sources said.
However, APMC members said they can only assess the success of the reforms once it is implemented. “Everyone wants farmers to get better prices. But let the government first tell farmers where there can sell their produce outside APMCs. Where will the new facilities be set up? This moves at present does not seem pro-farmer,” Rajendra Sharma, Azadpur APMC said.
APMC members have also highlighted the need to address “structural” issues before such reforms are introduced. “Structural issues like storage, transport, prices first need to be addressed, before expanding the markets for farmers. These mandis run on credit system. Buyers buy the produce in advance and repay us after sometime. No seller gets the cash immediately, “ Baldev Gaba, owner Gaba Trading company, Azadpur, said.
Another APMC member said the reforms should provide incentives to farmers. “We have farmers who come from Alwar. We provide them loans to procure seeds in advance. The new system also needs to work in a similar way,” Lalit, BVC Mandi, Azadpur, said.
APMC members cited failed attempts to attract farmers to sell their produce directly. “In 2004 we developed a kisan haat where a farmer could sell directly. But the scheme was closed in 2008 and Azadpur APMC incurred a loss of Rs 10 crore,” an APMC official said.