Traders and office bearers of Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMCs) in Gujarat have said that the central government’s decision to repeal the three farm laws, which triggered farmers agitation surrounding National Capital Region (NCR), will have a positive impact on APMCs across Gujarat.
In line with the central government’s three farm laws, the Gujarat government had also made an amendment in Gujarat Agriculture Produce Market Act, 1963 in the monsoon session of assembly last September. As per the new Act, monopoly of APMCs ended over the primary trade and made jurisdiction of market yards limited to their premises.
Earlier, traders had to pay a certain amount or commission to APMCs even if they used to purchase agricultural produce outside their premises. Every APMC in the state had a notified area to collect levies on such transactions occurring outside its premises.
According to traders smaller APMCs or market yards were struggling for existence in the state after the farm legislations came into effect over the past one year due to dwindling incomes. In fact, 20 odd APMCs have already become defunct due to squeezing activities over the past one year, said a senior official with the Gujarat State Agricultural Marketing Board which controls over 220 APMCs across the state.
“Forget smaller market yards, even large APMC like Rajkot witnessed a 10% reduction in annual income. In fact some market yards in Saurashtra region had started retrenching their employees due to insufficient funds,” said Atul Kamani, president of Saurashtra APMC Traders’ Association. Over the years, farmers were habituated to sell their produce at APMCs and feeling secured as auctions are staged in presence of APMC officials and commission agents, said Kamani, adding that small farmers coming with less quantity of agro produce could easily find buyers at APMCs, but in the new system they were not able to get desired rate.
Ghanshyam Patel, vice-chairman of Gujarat Niyantrit Bazar Sangh, a state level federal body of APMCs in Gujarat, said that the centre’s decision would give much needed respite to smaller market yards in Gujarat. Definitely income of smaller market yards reduced but at the same time bigger market yards benefited.
In the case of Mahuva market yards which is hub for onion witnessed a hike in income as farmers from the entire Saurashtra region started selling their produce following the new farm laws, claimed Patel. He however welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to repeal the farm laws in the larger interest of farmers.
Except the law related to storage of afro-commodities, there wouldn’t be much impact of the centre’s decision, says Sagar Rabari, head of Khedut Ekta Manch. Enactment of the old Essential Commodities Act will have a good impact on end users of afro-commodities as far as prices are concerned, he opined.