Agriculture Produce Market Committee traders bear the cost of Centre's farm bills

Even as thousands of farmers from across the country are protesting along the Haryana-Delhi border against the Centre’s contentious Farm Bills, traders at the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Navi Mumbai allege that they have incurred nearly 22 per cent loss in trade since the bills were brought in by the government. The traders allege that farmers prefer to sell outside the APMC as they do not need to pay any taxes there.

The traders at the wholesale market have been opposing since the Centre promulgated three ordinances and reformed the country’s agriculture market in the first week of June. There is a sharp decline in trade at APMC. Traders claim that the additional cess being charged is the main reason for their loss.

During the June-October period, mandi arrivals of crops at the grain market at APMC Vashi has seen a drop between 3 per cent and 63 per cent.

The arrivals of peas at the market was 63 per cent less and wheat has come down by around 46 per cent. Bhimji Bhanushali, secretary of the Grain, Rice and Oilseeds, Merchants’ Association (GROMA) at APMC, Vashi, said that since the ordinance has been promulgated, there is an overall 22 per cent loss in trade.

The arrival of vehicles laden with commodities at APMC Vashi started soon after the Farm Bill came into existence. The ordinance was brought in on June 6 and the arrival of vehicles with commodities during the month was 5,053 as against 6,842 in 2019 of the same period and it was kept in the following months.

The lockdown and the restrictions prevailing in large parts of the country are also seen as two of the reasons for a drop in arrival. In addition, crop damage, especially onion, is another reason. However, traders say that Farmer Produce Organisation or companies are skipping APMCs.

Bhanushali says that the intention to weaken APMC will impact the employment of more than 5 crore traders and other stakeholders across the country. He added, “This will be a win-win situation. If the government ensures that farmers do not need to pay any tax, they can sell their produce within or outside the market.”

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Free Press Journal