In what can be termed as the second phase of agricultural reforms in Maharashtra, the state government has decided to start a terminal market in Aurangabad. Maharashtra Minister of Cooperation Subhash Deshmukh Thursday announced that the state government would also establish the first-ever special commodities market for onions at Solapur soon. By definition, terminal markets sit at the top of the markets and has special facilities for grading and separating of agricultural commodities. Such terminal markets are expected to cater to export, domestic, wholesale as well as retail markets.
Termed as zero garbage market, the basic difference between normal markets and these markets is that the latter are called zero garbage markets — no wastage — as goods enter the market sorted and graded.
“The terminal market in Sambhajinagar (Aurangabad) would be constructed in a private-public-participation (PPP) mode and would be established over 50 acres of the market committee,” he said. Deshumkh said the tender process and bidding would start soon and the project would be completed at war footing.
On paper, export-oriented terminal markets bring in good handling and business practices in the field of agricultural goods. With its insistence on grading and packing, wastage is minimised. These markets are mostly run on the hub-and-spoke model and executed in a public-private-partnership mode. The proposed market in Aurangabad would be the fourth such market being planned in the state. A few years ago, the state government had planned for three such markets in Mumbai, Nagpur and Nashik but none of the projects has seen the light of the day.
All three previous markets had faced land issues which had acted as the major impediment towards them being set up.
The Mumbai market was to be set up over 100 acres and was budgeted at Rs 250 crore. However, the land allocated to the market was confiscated by the revenue officials on grounds of legal technicalities and the matter is pending before the Thane additional collector.
Similarly, the Nashik market was to be set up over 60 acres at a cost of Rs 60 crore and the Nagpur market was to be set up over 100 acres at Rs 50 crore. Both Nashik and Nagpur faced issues over land and failed to take off.
Special commodities market is a market which caters to a single commodity (in the case of the one being planned at Solapur, it is onion) and provides various infrastructure and technology to promote both export and domestic trade.
Nashik’s Lasalgaon market is the largest onion market in the country, Deshmukh said, adding the Solapur district also had a strong onion growing belt and the government wished to develop the same. Annually, Solapur market sees a trade of over 45 lakh tonnes in onions.
Dilip Mane, the chairman of the Solapur Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), however, expressed doubts about the viability of the project. “The existing trade itself is in jeopardy any new market will find it difficult to take off,” he said.