There will be no supply of vegetables and fruits for four days from the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, as traders there have decided to keep the market closed from Friday to Monday to protest against a state government proposal to reduce their commission percentages.
The APMC market supplies to the city and surrounding areas and the traders there make a living by charging a commission on the sale of farmers’ produce. A few months ago, the state government issued a circular seeking reduction in the commission percentages to keep spiralling prices of vegetables under control.
The move irked the APMC traders, who demanded the circular be withdrawn.
The traders have now decided to keep the market shut for four days and have even threatened to keep all wings of the market — vegetables, fruits, onion-potato, masala and grains — closed for an indefinite period if the government does not take the circular back by the end of next week.
Traders earn a commission of 8 per cent on vegetables, 10 per cent on fruits and 6.5 per cent on onions and potatoes. The state plans to reduce the commission for all three commodity types to a flat 6 per cent.
“It is a conspiracy to make the APMC market and its traders insignificant in order to ensure smooth entry of foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail,” APMC market vegetables wing director Shankar Pingle said. “We are already incurring huge losses because of inflation and harsh government policies. Now the government wants to throw us out of business. It will be impossible for us to do trading with just 6 per cent commission. So we will not let the market function for four days as a protest and we will keep all markets closed for an indefinite period from the next weekend if the government still insists on the reduction of the percentage.”
On the other hand, the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board (MSAMB) claims the proposal of 6 per cent commission has been mooted to bring in a uniform commission pattern at all APMC markets in the state.
“We have issued the circular in order to bring uniformity in commission charged at the APMC markets across the state,” MSAMB managing director Dr Kishor Toshniwal said. “We have decided commission of 6 per cent for perishable commodities and 3 per cent for non-perishable commodities. However, we are going to meet the directors and leaders of some APMC markets on Thursday to reach concurrence on the issue.”
The announcement of the strike by the vegetables, fruits and onion-potato wings comes at a time when the grains wing of the APMC market has remained indifinitely closed since a week to protest against raids by rationing officers on the godowns of the traders.