Even as farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, proceed to the national capital to protest the new agriculture laws, soybean farmers in Maharashtra have benefited from them to get more out of APMC deals. In the last three months, MahaFPC, the umbrella body of farmer producing companies (FPC) in Maharashtra, estimates that since the laws were enacted in September, FPCs in four districts have made worth Rs 10 crore from trade outside mandis.
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, curtails the power of APMCs to regulate agricultural marketing within the four walls of the markets. Earlier, any trade within the catchment area of APMCs was regulated by these cooperative bodies that had the power to levy market cess and other taxes on such transactions.
Since September, FPCs have recorded an increased trade interest from edible oil solvent and extractors and animal feed manufacturers for directly procuring from their farmers. For farmers, this meant savings in terms of transportation cost while companies benefited by not having to pay for mandi cess.
In the last three months, 19 FPCs, mainly in Marathwada, have recorded 2,693.588 tonne out-of-mandi trade with companies. Out of these, 13 FPCs in Latur have alone supplied 2,165.863 tonne mainly to ADM Agro Industries Private Ltd. Similarly, four FPCs in Osmanabad supplied 412.327 tonne and one FPC each in Hingoli and Nanded have supplied 96.618 tonne and 18.78 tonne oilseed to companies.
Direct sale to corporates is not new to Yuvraj Patil, who, for the past five years, has been selling to the procurement centre of ADM near his village Shelgaon in Ardhrapur taluka of Nanded. Patil, who cultivates the oilseed in over 17 of his 30 acres, said not only did it save transport cost but there were no questions about weight in those centres. “However, they stop procurement when market prices fall below the government-declared minimum support price (MSP),” said Patil, who also maintains an orchard of custard apple over 8 acres along with turmeric and banana growing over 2.5 acres of his remaining holdings. Patil is also the head of the Nanded district unit of the farmer union Swambhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, whose founder Raju Shetti has criticised the new legislation. He said while the law was not contentious to farmers, the government should ensure that non-MSP procurement did not happen outside mandis. “Also the grievance redress mechanism is weak,” he added.
Yogesh Thorat, managing director of MahaFPC, said the present structure allows the farmer ” choice to sell”. “We have seen farmers and corporates honour commitments made to each other,” he said.
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