Maharashtra goes for farm-to-mkt to curb veg prices

Amid a surge in vegetable prices, the state government has decided to curb the role of middlemen and enable farmers to sell their produce directly to consumers. The cabinet on Tuesday took an in-principle decision to adopt the farm-to-market approach which will allow cultivators to sell their produce to malls, retailers and even consumers.
As of now, farmers have to rely solely on the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), which runs marketyards where farm produce is sold through auctions. But payments to farmers often get delayed by this route.
State minister for cooperation and marketing Chandrakant Patil said the decision was taken keeping farmers' welfare in mind. “Farmers will have now two options, either they can sell their produce through APMC or go to the open market for a competitive price,“ said Patil. In the process, retail prices are also set to moderate as the 12-15% commission earned on transportation and storage by labourers, traders, middlemen will stay with farmers or be passed on to the buyer.
Some municipal administrations like Thane have already taken a proactive approach to the plan by identifying locations where farmer outlets can sell fresh produce at a cheaper rate.
As part of the plan to empower farmers, the state had approached the Centre six months ago with a proposal to include the 30 APMCs in various parts of the state to be empanelled in the `e-mandi', an online marketing mechanism under the national agriculture market portal. As the state had not amended the relevant law, the proposal could not be taken up. “Now since we have decided to amend the law to allow farmers to sell produce in the open market, they would be able to get a competitive price at the national level through online participation,“ said Patil.
Those allowed to buy directly from the farmer will have to register themselves “to ensure protection to farmers who can lodge complaints...if buyer does not pay“.

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