There is no state indulgence greater than the sops thrown before elections. Following Rahul Gandhi’s injunction, the party-led state government has decided to free the trade of vegetables and fruits from the clutches of the Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC), whose wholesalers are middlemen to sell farm produce. Gainers from the move: you the consumer, and farmers the producers. Together, the two groups form a much larger voter base than the parties that stand to lose from the bargain: APMC traders and Congress ally NCP.

 

A notification to delist groceries from the exclusive domain of APMCs has been approved by the state agriculture and marketing department, headed by Congress Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil. As a result, farmers will have the freedom to sell their produce to consumers instead of taking it to APMC wholesalers, who then sell it to retailers.


As a result of the denotification, farmers will be able to sell their produce to consumers directly, instead of taking it to APMC wholesalers, who then sell it to retailers. File pic

The minister’s nod comes in the face of stiff opposition from the NCP (see box). Minister Vikhe Patil said, “I have approved the notification to delist vegetables and fruits from the list of APMCs. We wanted to streamline the system of sale of vegetables and fruits.

When we decided to do this earlier, traders from APMCs opposed it. Accordingly, a hearing has been given by the state director of marketing. If they still have grievances, we can organise a joint meeting of officers of the state cooperation and marketing department with the traders.”

Doubling the gain
After a recent meeting of Congress chief ministers and senior office-bearers of the party in New Delhi, Rahul Gandhi announced that party-ruled states should allow open sale and purchase of vegetables and fruits. Moving quickly, Minister Vikhe-Patil processed the notification and got it approved by the law and judiciary department on Tuesday. Members of APMCs from across the state were at Mantralaya on the day, trying to persuade the minister otherwise, but the die seems to have been cast. MiD DAY has learnt that issuing the notification is a mere technicality, and that it might be sent out to market committees any moment now.

“The decision will benefit consumers immensely,” said a senior government functionary. “Today, the state approved vegetable centres across Mumbai to sell vegetables 25 per cent cheaper than the market rate. It happened because the government allowed farmers to sell their produce directly to the centres. Similarly, after the government notification, the prices will come down by 50 per cent, as farmers will have the
freedom to sell straight to consumers, which will further curtail the existing prices.”

North Mumbai Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam said, “The decision to delink sale of vegetables and fruits is part of the national initiative on vegetables and fruits. The farm produce should be allowed to be sold directly to reduce their prices in the interest of consumers. The decision of a meeting chaired by AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi is to favour a direct sale of these commodities between farmers and the consumers. Nothing should come in the way to make vegetables and fruits cheaper.