Some of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) in Gujarat are expected to remain closed due to the nationwide strike called by farmers against the Centre’s new agricultural laws on Tuesday.
Ashit Mehta, Secretary of the Amalsad Chickoo Co-IOperative Society, that falls under Amalsad APMC says, “The chickoo season starts from November and lasts till April. Due to the ongoing nation strike of farmers, the supply of chickoo has been affected, however we have continued our supply to traders in Rajasthan and neighboring districts. We have come to know that the transporters had stopped taking delivery for the goods going to Delhi, so we have decided to keep the mandi shut for two days — December 7 and 8.”
“This year the season started late, so we have also advised the farmers not to hurry… chickoo fruit gets damaged after 24 hours, so we have advised the farmers to wait for two days till the situation turns normal,” he added.
There are 24 APMC in South Gujarat, majorly run by the elected leaders of BJP, and they will function on Tuesday. Surat APMC which is one of the largest markets in the country, decided to keep the market open on Tuesday.
Sandeep Desai, director of APMC Surat, said, “We are not supporting the nationwide bandh … We have co-ordinated with around 24 APMC in five districts in South Gujarat that will remain open on December 8.”
Among the APMCs that will be shut on Tuesday is the Sanand APMC that largely deals with paddy and wheat. “We have decided to keep our APMC closed. Farmers might not turn up tomorrow and so there is no point in keeping the marketing yard open. We are not taking any sides,” said Girish Patel, secretary of APMC, Sanand, which is one of the eight APMCs in Ahmedabad district.
The other APMCs in and around Ahmedabad city such as Jamalpur, Jetalpur and Vasna will remain open. “We are open. However, we are not sure if the farmers will come. It is a decision they will make. But the traders will be present,” said Dipak Patel, secretary of Jamalpur APMC.
In Central Gujarat, the Dabhoi APMC is expected to remain closed. Congress leader Dilip Nagji Patel, chairman of APMC Dabhoi, told this newspaper that the decision to join the bandh was “not political but logical”.
Patel said, “At Dabhoi APMC, there is no market yard. We do not have any physical trading or activity that can be closed. So technically, whether we are open or closed does not really matter in absence of the market. There is no political reason behind this.”
Patel added that the market yard, which is under construction, would be ready by next year.
In Saurashtra region, APMCs such as the one at Amreli will remain open, but no auction will be held. “It was the demand of traders and commission agents to not conduct the auction process as farmers might not turn up,” said PP Pandya, secretary of Amreli APMC. He said the APMC will, however, buy and sell vegetables as it is a perishable item.
Sagar Rabari, who heads Gujarat Khedut Ekta Manch, said that APMCs controlled or headed by leaders aligned to the BJP will remain open, while the rest will remain closed. “We are not supporting the bandh. We had fought for introduction of some of these laws and it would unethical on our part to join the bandh,” said Rabari.
Meanwhile, opposition Congress has decided to support the bandh in Gujarat. According to sources, party workers will ask farmers and APMCs to remain closed.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Monday criticised the Congress party for supporting the bandh in the state, pointing out that the Congress manifesto in 2019 had promised to repeal the APMC Act. He added that the state government in the past three years have bought agricultural produce worth Rs 15,000 crore based on MSP.
Textile unions support
The Textile Market Labour Union and Textile Tempo Association have announced their support the nationwide bandh on Tuesday.
Surat Textile Market Transport Labour Union president Umashanker Mishra said, “There are lakhs of labourers working in the textile trading markets and in the tempo transport union. They will remain away from their regular duties on Tuesday, supporting the nation wide bandh.”