Agriculture marketing reform is now expanding its scope beyond the ambit of APMC Act amendment. World Bank in collaboration with the department of agriculture is assisting projects on agricultural competitiveness across states.
Earlier, it has assisted on three pilot projects in the states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Assam. The assistance to improve agricultural competitiveness is to develop alternate market channels compared to traditional ones. Moreover, according to officials, amendments in Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee is state subject and takes time as all stakeholders have to be taken on board who are most of the time resentful, said officials.
As per the report of the pilot projects, the objective of the Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project (MACP) is to increase the productivity, profitability and market access of the farming community in Maharashtra. The intent behind Assam Agricultural Competitiveness Project (AACP) is to stimulate growth of Assam’s agricultural economy through increase in the productivity and market access of targeted farmers and community groups. The objective of Rajasthan Agricultural Competitiveness Project (RACP) is to establish the feasibility of increasing agricultural productivity and farmer incomes in a sustainable manner through a distinct agricultural development approach by integrating agriculture water management and agricultural technology, farmer organisations and market innovations in selected locations across the ten agro-ecological zones of Rajasthan.
Such projects aim at supporting investments in better marketing facilities in terms of grading, packaging and setting up of scientific storages, information displays, electronic weighments, auction sheds etc.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation is supporting the establishment of Kisan Mandis to enable farmers and Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) to directly sell their produce to wholesalers, retailers and ordinary consumers. One such Kisan Mandi is being set up by Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) on a pilot basis in Delhi. However according to officials, all states and union territories have been advised on establishment of Kisan Mandis or farmer markets on the same model and SFAC has offered its services for technical assistance to such mantis, said officials. However the rider is that provided such mandis could come up only if the Agriculture Produce Marketing Regulation Act of the States/Union Territories specifically permits establishment and operation of Kisan Mandis.
Some of the reforms in APMC Act which various states and union territories have embarked upon are establishment of private market yards/private markets managed by a person other than market committee, direct purchase of agricultural produce from agriculturist by processor/ bulk buyer/ bulk retailer/ exporter, etc, establishment of farmers /consumers market managed by a person other than a market committee (Direct sale by the producer) and contract farming provision.