Over Rs 5,400 crore flowed to rural Gujarat during the lockdown, with over 16.35 lakh farmers selling their produce at Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) across Gujarat during the period between March and May, 2020 . However, farmer bodies said that not only were the agricultural transactions way lesser compared to previous years, the farmers also sold their produce at lesser prices.
Data provided by the state government revealed that over 5.45 lakh farmers sold 91.67 lakh quintals of agricultural produce at APMCs and earned Rs 3,702 crore between March 24 and June 1. Similarly, 10.89 lakh farmers sold an additional 84.01 lakh quintals of fruits and vegetables for about Rs 1,742 crore during the same period.
“More than Rs 5,400 crore made it into the hands of farmers despite the lockdown. This money was in addition to the relief provided by both the state and the Central governments,” a state government official said.
Officials admitted that the turnover of APMCs during the lockdown was lesser in comparison to previous years.
“The transactions that have happened at the APMCs during the lockdown are very less compared to previous years. Although I do not have data to support my claims, I must point out that most APMCs — apart from some of those seeking vegetables and fruits — remained shut during the initial part of the lockdown. They reopened only after April 15,” said Sagar Rabari of Khedut Ekta Manch, a body of farmers in the state.
“Many farmers who sold to APMCs this year received lesser remuneration compared to last year. This includes farmers who sold wheat and onions. For instance, farmers growing castor in north Gujarat are currently getting only Rs 600 for every 20 kg of their produce. Last year, it was Rs 1,100 for the same quantity,” Rabari said while adding that most agriculture transactions in Gujarat take place between March and April.
Mahuva APMC officials in Saurashtra region said that for farmers who came to sell red onions during the lockdown, the APMCs could offer prices only 50 percent of the prices last year. “Farmers get more money only if there is a shortage (of produce) or more demand in the market. This was a year when the farmers got less remuneration despite our best efforts,” said Mahuva APMC Chairman Ghanshyam Patel.
Between March 24 and June 1, APMCs in Gujarat bought 27.4 lakh quintals of onions worth over Rs 300 crore. During this period, Rs 234 crore worth of mangoes were also sold by the farmers.