In the wake of maintaining social distancing during the trade of agricultural produce amid COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Agriculture, Government of India has written to the state governments to promote ‘Direct Marketing’ to facilitate farmers, farmer producer organisations (FPOs) and cooperatives while selling to bulk buyers, big retailers and processors. The Centre has also issued advisories to maintain social distancing in the mandis to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
Recently, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has sent a letter to the chief ministers of states reiterating the need for direct marketing through cooperatives and FPOs and encouraged all the stakeholders and farmers to adopt this process. The Department also issued an advisory to the states to promote direct marketing without insisting for licensing procedures and facilitate the farmers in timely marketing of farm produce.
In order to decongest wholesale markets and to boost the supply chain, following two modules under National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) have been introduced:
FPO Module: FPOs can directly trade with e-NAM portal. They can upload produce details from collection centers with picture and quality parameter and avail the bidding facility without physically reaching to the mandis.
Warehouse Based Trading Module: Farmers can sell their produce from Warehousing Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) registered warehouses notified as deemed market, and do not physically bring the produce to the nearest mandis.
Various states have adopted direct marketing and taken several measures:
- Karnataka exempted Cooperative Institutions and FPOs in the state for engaging in wholesale trade of agricultural produce outside the market yards;
- Tamil Nadu exempted market fee on all notified agricultural produce;
- Uttar Pradesh allowed trading in e-NAM platform from farm-gate and promoted issuance of unified licence to processors for direct purchase from farmers and also allowed FPOs to undertake procurement operations of wheat;
- Rajasthan allowed direct marketing by traders, processors and FPOs. In addition to that, Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS)/ Large Area Multi-purpose Cooperative Societies (LAMPS) in Rajasthan have been declared as deemed markets.
- Apart from Individuals, firms, and processing units, Madhya Pradesh has allowed to set up private purchase centres outside the market–yard to purchase directly from farmers with an application fee of Rs. 500/- only.
- Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujarat have also allowed direct marketing without requirement of any licence.
- Uttarakhand has declared warehouse, cold storage and processing plants as sub-mandis.
- Uttar Pradesh government has recently relaxed the rules and norms for declaring warehouses and cold storages as market-yards.
Impact of Direct Marketing
Rajasthan has issued more than 1,100 direct marketing licences to processors during lockdown period wherein farmers have already started selling directly to the processors. Out of more than 550 PACS declared as market-yards in rural areas, 150 PACS have become functional for direct marketing and village traders are performing trade transactions successfully.
Due to market fee waiver in Tamil Nadu, it was observed that traders have preferred to buy the produce from farmers from their farm-gate.
In Uttar Pradesh, direct linkages have been established by FPOs with farmers and traders thereby supplying their produce to consumers in cities which saved wastages and directly benefitted the farmers. Further, the state has facilitated in establishing linkages with FPOs and Zomato food delivery app thereby ensuring smooth distribution of veggies to consumers.