Traders, Mathadi (head loader) unions, and committee members of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) will hold a meeting on Monday to chalk out the further plan of action against the amendment in the Essential Commodities Act 1955, brought in by the central government in the first week of June. They want clarity from the state government.
In the first week of June, the central government amended the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and brought in ‘The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020’. With the amendment, farmers are allowed to trade outside the APMC without any State’s tax or legal binding.
At present, the trade of essential commodities like food grain, oil, vegetables, onion-potato attracts 0.8% cess at the APMC. Because of the cess, the same product becomes costly at APMC and people to purchase it from out of the wholesale market. This has impacted trade at the wholesale market and it is decreasing gradually.
The purpose of the central government is to enable farmers to get a better price for their products. However, traders claim that there is no mechanism to solve issues if a farmer is not paid for their products. “The present amendment will help big retail chains who will buy from the open market because there is no such cess there,” said a trader.
In Maharashtra, there are 306 APMCs, and the change in the act is being opposed by all APMCs.
Narendra Patil, former MLC and general secretary of Mathadi Union says that they want clarity from the state government as the act has already been implemented. “Despite NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena has coalition government in the state, there is no clarity on their stand,” said Patil. He added that they show that they are against the bill. But on the ground, they have not done anything to protect the APMCs.
During the meeting, all the stakeholders will take a call on strike for a day or longer strike to put pressure on both the central and state government.
Earlier, around 306 APMCs had shut the operation on August 25 against the bill. “Since the APMCs are still under the state government and the recent amendment in the Essential Commodities Act is separate from the model APMC Act, the state government can make a decision in waiving off the cess,” said Patil.
According to traders at Vashi APMC, the decision has severely impacted their business, and they are incurring huge losses.