THE AGRICULTURE Produce Market Committee (AMPC) of Unjha, reportedly the largest trading hub of cumin seeds (jeera) in the world, will resume auction of the spice seeds from Saturday in a staggered manner. The move comes around 20 days after the APMC resumed some activity on April 24.
“We have decided to resume auction of commodities in a staggered manner. We shall conduct auction of jeera and isabgol, two major commodities that arrive on one day, and other spice seeds such as fennel, fenugreek, coriander, mustard seeds, etc. on the second day. We shall begin with auction of jeera and isabgol on Saturday, while other commodities will be auctioned on Monday,” Unjha APMC chairman Dinesh Patel told The Indian Express on Thursday.
Patel said that the decision was taken to ensure that farmers get remunerative prices for their commodities and labourers also get some work. “We started trading of jeera from April 24 but price was discovered on the basis of samples of purchase. Auction is much better way of price discovery. Also, local people who do not have any work due to lockdown will be able to get some work on the yard,” the chairman said.
Since April 24, the yard has been allowing farmers to park their vehicles outside the AMPC yard in Unja town and traders to purchase spice seeds by checking samples of commodities from vehicles. “We observed that average 500 vehicles used to arrive in Unja. We are confident that traders will find enough labourers locally to handle this amount of commodities,” Patel added.
Around 10,000 labouers handle tonnes of cumin seed and other commodities at the APMC yard every day. But majority of them are from Rajasthan and traders say that these labourers have left for their native places due to lockdown.
The chairman added that only one farmer will be allowed per one vehicle transporting commodities to the yard. “This has been done with a view to maintain social distancing. Auction will be conducted in a manner that no crowding takes place. Also, the canteen for farmers will remain closed. Instead, we have directed traders to accommodate farmers in their offices and prove them meals,” he said.
March to May is considered peak season of jeera marketing in Gujarat, the largest producer of spice seed in India. This year, the crop was delayed by around two weeks due to late retreat of monsoon. However, just when arrivals started peaking, the yard was closed since March 22 due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus.
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