Major agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) in Saurashtra are flooded with the fresh arrivals of the oilseed as usual as there has been no major shift in marketing chain of this important crop of Saurashtra despite the state government abolishing levies on traders procuring at farmgates this year.
Gondal APMC in Rajkot, the biggest market of groundnut in the state, has recorded arrivals of 60,608 quintals of groundnut in the first eight days of this month. Rajkot APMC, the second biggest wholesale market of the oilseed, has logged arrivals of around 46,100 quintals of groundnut in the first 10 days of this month. The rush from farmers to cart their harvested oilseed crop is so high that Gondal APMC is forced to allow arrivals once in four days. Same is the situation in Rajkot as commission agents and traders are unable to auction off the entire arrivals in a day and there are space constraints on APMC yards.
“We are forced to regulate the arrivals as farmers are in a hurry to transport their groundnut to market soon after harvesting it but our trading system at the APMC is taking up to three to four days to handle the quantity which is arriving in a single day,” Kirit Somaiya, secretary of Gondal APMC, told The Indian Express on Monday.
APMCs in Gujarat had powers to charge marketing cess on every transaction taking place within its jurisdiction, which usually would be a taluka or two, till early this year. However, on May 6 this year, the state government promulgated an ordinance amending the Gujarat Agricu-ltural Produce Market Act 1963 to limit the regulatory jurisdiction of APMCs in the state to the physical boundaries of their respective yards. Thus a trader procuring directly from farmers at farmgate is no longer liable to pay marketing cess to an APMC and universal licence allows him to procure from any farmer from anywhere in the state.
The government has been pushing the move as a reform which will eliminate commission agents or the middlemen, promote competition among traders, which in turn, would help farmers get remunerative price of their produce. It also allows setting up private yards and sub-yards for trading of agricultural produce. Last month, the Gujarat Assembly also passed a Bill to amend the Gujarat Agricultural Produce Market Act. The Central government too has enacted a similar law in addition to providing a legal framework for contract farming.
“We still have faith in the APMC system. To be honest, we are struggling to gather what the new law means. In any case, paying 60 paisa marketing cess on a transaction with Rs 100 is not a big deal for us. Farmers also prefer to bring their produce to APMC as they generally get prices higher than ones offered at his farmgate since a trader going to a farmer’s farm also has to factor in the transportation cost,” said Paresh Vadodariya, a groundnut trader who operates on the Gondal APMC yard.
Atul Kamani, former president of Rajkot APMC Commission Agents Association, said the amendments have had little impact on their business so far. “The arrivals of groundnut are quite normal despite an estimate of lower yield this year. This suggests, there isn’t any great uptick in procurement at farmgates,” said Kamani.
Despite the markets having been flooded, groundnut prices have held firm. The oilseed is fetching bids up to Rs 5,350, higher than the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 5275 declared by the Central government. “The overall quality of the crop this year is comparatively low as crop was affected by heavy rain in August. But groundnut of fair average quality is getting sold in the range of Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,000 per quintal,” said Mukehs Satasiya, president of Gondal APMC commission agents association.
The rush at APMC comes at a time when the government is in the process of registering those farmers who want to sell their groundnut at MSP. Around three lakh farmers have got themselves registered for selling their groundnut to the Central government even as the registration window is scheduled to remain open till October 20. The government procurement of the oilseed is to start from October 21 onward.