With Punjab Mandi Board (PMB) organising awareness camps, training programmes and seminars on the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) across mandis in the state, The Indian Express explains how e-NAM can help Punjab farmers break free from the ‘wheat and paddy cycle’.
What is e-NAM?
E-NAM (National Agriculture Market) is an online trading platform for agriculture produce aiming to help farmers, traders, and buyers with online trading and getting a better price by smooth marketing. It was launched by the Centre in 2015 and the government had to extend it in a phased manner across the 585 mandis of the country by December 31, 2019. Punjab was included in it in April 2018. While the deadlines has been missed, under e-NAM all mandis have to be made live on the e-NAM portal by Centre for online transaction of agricultural commodities.
What commodities can be sold on this portal in Punjab?
The farmers growing wheat and paddy, which comes under the assured Minimum Support Price (MSP) category, would not be registered under it. In Punjab, the farmers who grow seven commodities including basmati, cotton, maize, green peas, potato, kinnow, and moong dal (pulse) are registered under e-NAM.
How can e-NAM help in diversification?
All these seven e-NAM enabled crops in Punjab have a great potential of diversifying the area from paddy (non-basmati) and wheat crops which are occupying 55 to 60 per cent and 87 per cent of the total cultivable area, respectively, in Kharif and Rabbi seasons in Punjab. The state wants to divert at least 50 per cent area of current paddy area to other crops like maize, basmati, and cotton. “In the awareness camps we are inviting all farmers — paddy, wheat growers and others — to motivate them to divert some portion of their wheat and paddy under e-NAM enabled commodities,” said General Manager (Project) Punjab Mandi Board, G P S Randhawa, adding that e-NAM would give them a big platform to sell their non-MSP crops at best price in the mandis located across the country through live mandis, which are connecting through dedicated internet leased line on e-NAM portal.
For instance, there is a huge demand of kinnow in the south and farmers can sell it a pretty good price online in the even when the prices are under stress in the local markets here, added Randhawa.
He argued that if after getting good market price for non-MSP crops, farmers start diversifying to other crops, this would be a huge benefit in a state like Punjab where there are 18.50 lakh farmers.
Is e-NAM working smoothly in Punjab’s mandis?
There are 154 main mandis in Punjab, and the Government of India has approved 37 markets (24 per cent of the total) out of which only 19 markets have been integrated with e-NAM portal while 18 markets for live operations are pending at the level of GOI. Currently, intra-mandi, inter-mandi trade is taking place more than inter-state.
“At the moment the e-NAM is at an early stage and it will take time for the smooth online trading,” said Randhwa. He added that logistics is also one of the major issues at central level as it would act as a backbone of the project which will improve the marketing aspect of the agriculture sector and further strengthen the supply chain of commodities and reduces wastages.
For a real turnaround, all the mandies are required to be made live and connected with each other while farmers are needed to be trained for online trading.
Meanwhile, basic equipment like moisture meters is available in mandis to assess the moisture of food grains in all the 37 e-NAM mandis. Besides this, equipment for cotton assaying is also available in all the e-NAM cotton mandis. The proposal to procure the assaying equipment for assessing the physical as well as chemical parameters of food/oil crops is under consideration.
How many farmers have registered till now under e-NAM?
There are 18.50 lakh farmers in Punjab out of which around 2,10,438 farmers (11.3 per cent) have been registered. They are being facilitated by 1,369 traders and, 5,241 arhtiyas (commission agents) registered on the e-NAM portal. However, there are around 28,000 active arhtiyas in Punjab who sell farmers’ crops.
How much crop has been sold in past two years?
So far, different agricultural commodities (11.40 lakh tonnes) worth Rs 3,282 crores have been traded on e-NAM portal.
How can e-NAM help Punjab?
Punjab also has great potential as it grows around 12-15 lakh bales of lint (one bale is of 177 KG), over 20 lakh tonnes basmati, over 10 lakh tonnes kinnow, 27 lakh tonnes potatoes and thousands of tonnes maize, peas and moong.
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