Deregulated APMCs rule in Maharashtra

MUMBAI: Four years after Maharashtra removed fruits and vegetables from the purview of its Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs), private markets still play a small role in agricultural produce trade.
For 2019-20, the turnover of the state’s 305 APMCs was Rs 48,429 crore — 479% more than that of the 60 private markets and 1,165 holding private licences to buy directly from farmers at Rs 8,360 crore. This shows that the deregulation of APMCs did not lead to farmers switching en masse to private markets. Indeed, the Maharashtra experience does not support the logic behind the Centre’s new farm legislation on APMCs: that monopolistic mandis are blocking private markets and depriving farmers of choices.
The bulk of crops doesn’t even reach markets, but are sold at the village level to traders or dealers, as per data of the Centre’s National Sample Survey Office. However, when it comes to markets, APMCs are still the preferred destination for farmers in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra was among the first states to adopt the Model APMC Act of 2003, laying the ground for agricultural marketing reforms. By 2016, when the BJP-Shiv Sena government was in power, it delisted fruits and vegetables from the purview of APMCs. In 2018, during the same regime, the state assembly passed a bill to remove all agricultural produce from the purview of APMCs, but the bill was defeated in the Upper House. The deregulation of APMCs during the BJP-Sena’s tenure had political undertones since bulk of them are controlled by the NCP and Congress. Data shows that the turnover of the state’s APMCs grew the year after they were deregulated. In 2016-17, the turnover was Rs 48,659 crore and in 2017-18, it rose to Rs 51,003 crore. While four years after fruits and vegetables were delisted from APMCs, their turnover declined by 4% to Rs 48,429 crore, the arrivals dipped from 2,158 lakh quintals to 1,638 lakh quintals in the same period.

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