Forty-three years after commencing physical sale of farm commodities, the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Vashi near Mumbai is set to go online and sale commodities via electronic orders for delivery in a day or two.
The beginning will be made in the food grain segment. Modalities will be finalised on Saturday.
The move began after the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) issued an advisory late Thursday evening to devise a strategy to reduce the number of entrants into the APMC yard and maintain social distancing to prevent spread of coronavirus. Covid-19 has infected over 120 mandi participants so far, including traders, farmers, workers and customers taking thereby total number of such patients to over 600 in the vicinity.
To avoid its further spread, the government of Maharashtra has decided to close the mandi for a week ending Sunday and begin only after proper sanitisation of the entire yard and health check up of all participants.
In order draw a roadmap on online and its linking with the electronic National Agricultural Mandi (eNAM), the state government has convened a meeting of all stakeholders including officials of the marketing department (which monitors APMC), trade associations, mandi officials and farmers’ representatives among others on Saturday.
“We have advised that the mandi should start selling commodities online. The move aims to reduce number of entering people in mandi. A detailed blueprint on the operative part will be finalised in the scheduled meeting with stakeholders on Saturday,” said Annasaheb, Misal, Commissioner, NMMC.
Spread in 72.5 hectares in six separate sections, the APMC Vashi commenced physical selling of onion and potato in 1977. Three years later i.e. in 1980, the state government notified to allow trade in fruits, vegetables, spices and condiments among others. Foodgrains and pulses are major commodities traded through APMC Vashi where farmers, stockists, exporters, traders, wholesalers and retailers from not only from Maharashtra but also from rest of the country enter into the mandi to execute their deals.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic came into light, around 100,000 people used to enter into the mandi. But, the market yard imposed various restrictions including mandatory prior registration of vehicles and people boarded on them for entry and denial of permission to retail purchasers with below Rs 10,000 of booking order etc. These actions resulted into a sharp reduction in footfalls to 60,000 before the mandi went on to one week shutdown i.e. May 11.
“But, further reduction in the number of people entering into mandi is required without hurting farmers’ and traders’ interest. Hence, we need to plan sale of some commodities only through online,” said Anil Chavan, Secretary, APMC Vashi.
On successful beginning of online, however, the government may link APMC Vashi with eNAM for nationwide sale of agricultural commodities being cultivated in Maharashtra. The government has so far connected 962 mandis with eNAM to allow farmers sale of their produce to consumers nationwide for higher realisation.
Informed sources said that plans are afoot to begin sale of all foodgrains only through online with a major quantity through auctions which would be later extended to other commodities.
“A wholesaler or retailer can place orders either through email or phone with payment in advance or on delivery. The APMC trader will delivery goods from mandi,” said Sunil Singatkar, Director, APMC Vashi.
APMC Vashi has collected a total revenue of Rs 100 crore for finaical year 2018-19 through 2.75 per cent of mandi tax.