Modi asks states to alter mandi rules for direct delivery to reduce crowd

he letters written by the Union ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare advised states to relax rules governing the APMC Act and mandis for three months. | Photo: Shutterstock
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called upon state governments to quickly make necessary changes to rules governing their mandis so that direct marketing of farm produce can be done without crowding the markets.

Addressing the chief ministers during a four-hour long meeting to discuss the modalities for extending the lockdown, Modi said that model Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) laws should be reformed swiftly.

“Such steps will help farmers sell products at their doorstep,” the Prime Minister said. The agriculture ministry, in the last few weeks, issued guidelines and letters to states to ensure agriculture and food products reach consumers in a timely manner, while farmers don’t have to come to the mandis to sell them.

This, according to officials, is meant to ensure that farmers, commission agents, sellers and buyers don’t crowd the mandis.

However, as agriculture is a state subject, the Central government has limited powers to ensure implementation of the guidelines. The measures suggested include limiting jurisdiction of the APMCs to their physical premises, allowing big retailers and even commodity processors to buy directly from farmers and decentralising authority for issuing passes.
This will help in the movement of essential goods and critical persons engaged in essential services.

The letters written by the Union ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare advised states to relax rules governing the APMC Act and mandis for three  months. This will allow farmers to sell crops directly to bulk buyers, processors, and big retailers without a licence.

States have been asked to limit jurisdiction of all APMCs to the physical premises of notified markets only for three months. That apart, all warehouses registered with the Warehouse Development and Regulatory Authority are being notified as market yards. This will help farmers sell at their doorstep and all processors and bulk users can buy from them without going to mandis.

Besides, letters by the home secretary to all administrators and the agri ministry to all state chief secretaries have called for decentralising authorisation while issuing passes to move around for providing essential services. The Centre has relaxed norms for trading on the e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform, which is linked to 585 mandis in 16 states. In these letters, all items of food and grocery, which are consumed by people daily, have been defined as essential goods. States and administrators have been told to follow this definition of essential goods.

District authorities are issuing passes to carry out activities and services that are “essential and under exempted category”. However, those businesses having nationwide supply chain of essential goods are facing difficulties.

States administrators and chief secretaries have also been told that designated authorities under Railways, ports, and airports should be allowed to issue passes to staff and contractual labour that are essential for such services. They have also been told to mobilise resources to take advantage of the special trains carrying essential goods. Indian Railways is running 134 trains in 67 routes, carrying perishable commodities such as fruits, milk and dairy products.

The ministry has also allowed farmer producer organisations or FPOs to sell on e-Nam without bringing the produce to mandis.

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