Putting an end to the “monopoly” of state-run APMCs in Gujarat, the state government has cleared the Gujarat Agricultural Produce Markets (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, which allows private entities to set up their own market committees or sub-market yards that can compete and offer the best possible remuneration to farmers for their produce.
The ordinance also restricts the jurisdiction of these market committees to the physical boundaries of their respective marketing yards.
So far, farmers of a particular taluka had to compulsorily sell their produce to their respective APMCs. Even traders were restricted to their own talukas. The APMCs levied a cess on any transaction that happened within the marketing yard of the APMC or outside it.
Last fiscal, the state’s 24 APMCs together conducted transactions worth Rs 35,000 crore and earned Rs 350 crore as cess (0.5℅) on the transactions. About 40 per cent of the cess earned was on transactions done outside the physical boundaries of the APMCs’ marketing yards.
“Earlier, an APMC had jurisdiction over an entire taluka, and in some cases more than one taluka. Now APMCs can levy cess only on those transactions that happen within the boundary walls of their marketing yard,” Manish Bhardwaj, secretary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Cooperation, told The Indian Express on Monday.
“The radical changes that have been brought through the ordinance will not only make APMCs more competitive, but will also bring a sea change by ending their monopoly,” he said.
“Now, farmers won’t be bound to sell only to one particular APMC,” he said, adding that the ordinance turns the whole balance in favour of farmers.
The ordinance that was promulgated on May 7 also permits “setting up of private markets”.
Bhardwaj said a Bill in this regard could not be tabled in the Gujarat Assembly as the lockdown had forced the Budget session to be truncated.
The officer said, “Any silo, cold storage or a warehouse owned by a private entity can be converted into a sub-market yard or a private market that can compete with the APMCs to offer the best possible price and attract farmers. In order to ensure that some of the smaller APMCs are not cannibalised, we later plan to bring a rule that will not allow the setting up of a private market within a five-kilometre radius of an existing APMC. This will ensure fair play to everyone.” These private markets can be set up by farmers themselves.
In a bid to protect the interests of smaller APMCs, the government will collect 20 per cent cess from private players and reroute 14 per cent of it back to the APMCs, he said.
The ordinance also provides traders with one “unified single trading licence” through which they can participate in trading activities anywhere in the state.
“A trader in Unjha will now be able to participate in the auction process in Surat. So now, multiple traders can woo a farmer depending on the quality of their produce,” Bhardwaj said. The amendments also allow setting up of portals for e-markets.
“The director of APMC and the Gujarat State Agriculture marketing board will look into grievance redressal. Till now, the APMC was the sole authority,” said the official.
While APMCs are not too happy, farmers’ bodies have welcomed the state government’s decision. “Though this ordinance will allow more private players to enter, it will end the monopoly of the APMCs who used to form a cartel and decide on what prices to offer to farmers. There are two major takeaways. Firstly, the farmer can sell wherever he wishes and secondly, there will be more buyers than sellers in the market,” said Sagar Rabari of Khedut Ekta Manch.
Girish Patel, secretary of Sanand APMC, said the ordinance would affect revenues. “Last year, of the Rs 2.5 crore we earned as market fees, Rs 1.5 crore came from transactions that were conducted outside the marketing yard. With the new ordinance in place, we will be losing out on this revenue,” said Patel. He said APMCs will meet the state government to sort out this issue in the coming days.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines