Soon, it will be a year since Tushar Patil, a farmer from Pune’s Shirur taluka, decided to bypass the local marketyard and sell vegetables directly at the weekly farmer’s market in Pune. “The local farmers’ group has been organising weekly markets, but I was circumspect about their success. However, in January last year, when the prices of vegetables had almost crashed in the Pune marketyard, I decided to take part in the farmers’ market and try selling my wares directly,” he said.
During his first foray in the alternate markets, Patil said he made an additional profit of 15 per cent, compared to what he usually earned in the traditional market. “Other than transport, there were no cuts in my final bill. Since then, I have made it a point to participate in these markets… they help me earn more,” he said.
Last year, the state government had undertaken a series of reforms to help farmers discover alternate markets, such as delisting fruits and vegetables from the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) and making space available to farmer producer companies (FPCs) in urban areas for weekly markets, among others. A year later, the government’s initiatives seem to be paying off, as the alternate markets have doubled their turnover for the financial year 2016-17.
Records released by the Directorate of Marketing show that the combined turnover from private markets, direct markets and single license markets had crossed Rs 13,000 crore for the fiscal year ending on March 2017. In the financial year 2015-16, the turnover from these alternate markets had barely crossed Rs 7,000 crore. Direct market licenses are issued to business houses which directly buy produce from farmers without the interference of APMCs. Currently, Maharashtra has issued 264 licences and 37 private markets are operational.
Sunil Pawar, director, marketing, said the state government now plans to improve infrastructure and invite major players to enter the market. “We are inviting big corporate houses to get into the space, which will help farmers realise better price for their produce,” he said.