No more License Raj in agriculture market, says new Govt policy

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The idea of a National Agriculture Market (NAM) online trading portal got the Cabinet Committee’s nod on Wednesday. So far under the license raj, farmers are bound to trade with commission agents, who are licensed to do business in the area under Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC). Farmers will now be able to sell their produce to buyers in any part of the country through an online e-commerce website. This initiative is perceived to be a natural extension of Digital India mission.

Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) has welcomed this initiative. SFAC has been designated the lead agency for developing the NAM e-platform. “This virtual marketplace will allow a farmer from, say, Narsinghpur in Madhya Pradesh to sell his chana to a dal miller in Delhi who may be willing to pay a higher price. The miller, too, benefits by virtue of not having to be physically present in Narsinghpur or being forced to depend on traders in that APMC area,” observed Pravesh Sharma, Managing Director of SFAC, while he was talking to The Indian Express.

The GoI has earmarked Rs 200 crore for the development of NAM portal. This e-commerce portal aims to cover 585 mandis across India: 250 in the current fiscal, 200 in 2016-17 and 135 in 2017-18.

It is pertinent to mention here that the idea of integrating the existing APMC market with a common e-platform is inspired by Karnataka state government’s agricultural policy. The state government has established Rashtriya e Market Services Private Limited, a 50:50 joint venture with NCDEX Spot Exchange. This joint venture aims to offer an automated auction platform to farmers and connect them with all the mandis in Karnataka.

Given the miserable condition of the current cyber-infrastructure that we have in India; the idea of NAM portal has to pass numerous litmus tests in the coming days. On the negative side, it may end up as a guinea pig in the kitty of the Department of Agriculture.

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