Prime Minister Narendra Modi will formally launch a National Agriculture Market (NAM) portal on Thursday, to enable 21 mandis across 8 states attempt e-trading on a pilot basis. The chosen mandis will be able to connect with other mandis within the same state, but not at a national level at the moment.
"This will be the first step towards the establishment of a National Agriculture Market," Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, said.
The 12 states that are part of the pilot programme are Gujarat, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The government has listed 25 commodities, including wheat, maize, chana, jowar, bajra, potato and cotton to be traded with NAM.
While six mandis in Uttar Pradesh will get connected, the pilot project in Telengana will involve five mandis.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Singh said the move will help farmers realise better prices for their produce. "Today, a farmer who approaches a licensee (trader) in a mandi doesn't know what the rate of his produce in another market is. The e-platform will provide him an opportunity to learn that, thereby eliminating the chances of being exploited", Singh said.
According to him, the idea of NAM has come from Karnataka, where a series of amendments to the State Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act has resulted in farmers getting the freedom to sell their produce in the market of their choice. APMC, in its original form restricts the movement of agricultural produce and thereby limits the ability of the farmer to bargain for a better price.
"We took all state agriculture ministers on a visit to Karnataka to learn how the State has linked 40 - 50 markets through e-trading platform. Everywhere there is electronic display of the prices of produce in all other markets. Farmers can thus opt to sell at a place where he can fetch the best price", the minister said.
Since agri-market reforms are integral to NAM, reforms of State APMC Act in terms of a single license for trading to be valid across the state, single point of levy of market fee and provision for electronic auction as a mode for price discovery, has been made a pre-condition for integration with NAM. The minister said many states and Union Territories have expressed their willingness to join NAM. Twelve of them have presented detailed proposals for integration.
NAM scheme was approved on 1 July, 2015 with a budgetary allocation of Rs 200 crores. The objective is to link 585 regulated markets with the common e-platform by March 2018.