The state government has decided to initiate reforms in the 307 agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) to stop exploitation of farmers across Maharashtra. The annual turnover in the APMCs was Rs 65,000 crore last year. The decision comes in wake of unrest at the grassroots as farmers are seeking better price for their produce. The state government report indicates that farmers are often forced to park foodgrains and vegetables in the APMC at much lower prices. Middlemen often play a critical role in determining the tariff of fresh vegetables, fruits and grains.
In its first step towards checking such manipulation, the government has decided to adopt a legislation during the monsoon session of the state legislature in July, allowing the farmers to exercise their vote and choosing an APMC panel.
Currently, all farmers in their respective regions have no voice in the selection of APMC board members. The APMC elections are confined to restricted members thus keeping a sizeable number of farmers out of the process.
Minister of Cooperation and Marketing Subash Deshmukh has already mooted a proposal to bring a legislation to stem the corruption and manipulation in APMCs across the state.
A senior officer in the ministry told The Indian Express: “The legislation allowing farmers to exercise their vote in the selection of APMC board members will help in streamlining the operations.”
At present, a majority of the APMCs are under the control of Congress and NCP leaders or their associates. Stating that the reforms were not being considered with any political vendetta, a senior minister said: “If farmers are complaining about low price, we will have to fix the problems.”
Officials indicated that the matter would be discussed with the APMCs too.