Farmers from Maharashtra would soon get greater access to domestic markets in other states, which has been the prerogative of the traders. The Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) has undertaken a special programme to help farmers from the state access such markets that would involve the appointment of trade representatives in other states. Sunil Pawar, managing director of the MSAMB, said the programme would involve all the stakeholders to help towards market discovery for the agri produce in the state. Other than trade representatives, the farmer-producer companies (FPCs), will also be roped in to help in the process.
The MSAMB, Pawar said, would act as a facilitator and introduce the groups in the markets of other states. He added that trade representatives would be a single point of contact of the state in those markets. The work of the representatives would be to understand the market demand and contact FPCs to trade there. Commonalities about the functions and role of such representatives are being worked out as of now.
At present, semi-perishable commodities, such as onions, pomegranate, along with some of the vegetables, are being targeted for the trade. Newer market discovery, officials hope, would help in better realisation for the farmers and would be a cheaper option than export. States such as Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Odisha, West Bengal and some of the Northeastern states are being targeted in the first phase.
While Maharashtra is the leading producer of onion, pomegranate, grapes etc, only a small fraction of the trade is being carried out by the farmers. Most of it has been cornered by the traders and commission agents who have access to both the markets outside the state as well as the market channels. In order to help farmers give access to outside the state markets, the state government has recently signed an MoU with the railways, which will allow an extra carriage to be attached to the trains. Also, facilitation centres have been set up in Nashik to help in the preservation of onions and vegetables. MahaFPC, the umbrella organisation of FPCs in the state, had experimented with such market discovery with onions last year. FPCs from Solapur had managed to send onions to the wholesale market of Chandigarh. About 68 tonnes of onions were traded by FPCs.
Yogesh Thorat, managing director, MahaFPC, said farmers found it difficult to crack such markets as they were not aware of the market dynamics. “The value chain has been created to help the farmers in such markets,” he added.