Coronavirus outbreak: Farmers may pitch in as APMC market to stay shut till the end of March

Updated: Mar 25, 2020, 09:03 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

While APMC has decided to implement a lockdown, its director says local farmers can still get you your daily supply of fruits and veggies

APMC market will be shut from today till March 31
APMC market will be shut from today till March 31

In the wake of COVID-19, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) of Vashi has decided to lock down the market completely starting today, March 25, to March 31. So, not fruits and vegetables will reach retail vendors in the city.

However, one hope in this situation is local farmers who might still be able to bring fresh vegetables/fruits directly to local markets, said Ashok Walunj, director of the onion and potato market.

Sanjay Pansare, director, fruit market, APMC, said, "We have around 40,000 traders and buyers from all over Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Raigad area along with over 10,000 mathadi workers, and more than 1,500 trucks laden with fruits and vegetables enter the market daily. Given these circumstances, how can we stop the spread of the virus or predict who is a carrier? Hence we have decided to lock down the entire market until March 31."

The APMC market will be under complete lockdown from March 25 to 31

With section 144 imposed in the state and state borders sealed, produce coming from other states will also not come to APMC, he said.

Mango season
The season for the famous Alphonso begins by March every year. But this year things might be different, Pansare said. "The total production cost behind one box of mangoes is around R2,500 and the boxes usually reach APMC by the first week of March but Covid-19 will surely have an adverse impact on the fruit's arrival this season and on the earnings of farmers."

The APMC market itself might have to bear a loss of approximately R500 crore if the lockdown continues for a longer period, Pansare predicted. Ashok Walunj, director of the Onion and Potato market too expressed similar concerns.

"We have already cleared all our stocks with nearly 60 trucks of onion and potatoes leaving the market on Tuesday to supply to retailers around Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. We are not collecting any more stock now," he said.

Hope from local farmers
Walunj said that the state government had de-notified the APMC Act three years ago.

This means that farmers can directly reach the consumer without getting the APMC involved so consumers need not bother about supply. "If it is not coming from APMC, the farmers will deliver it to them," he said.

This, he said, is quite possible given the demand for fresh produce.

While it will be more feasible in places that have smaller villages/towns nearby like Panvel and around Thane, even the retail vendors in the main city may source it from the nearest farming community.

Section 144 violated

Tuesday saw many people violating section 144 in Navi Mumbai's Kharghar as they thronged the markets to buy vegetables and groceries. A local resident at the Reliance super market said, "The situation is grim. We also did not have the PMC (Panvel Municipal Corporation) garbage collecting vans turn up today, resulting in the bins overflowing at sector 20, Kharghar."

No business on Gudhi Padva

"This is the first time in the history of APMC that the market will be locked down and no business will happen on the auspicious day of Gudhi Padva, which is saddening," said Shirish Badgujar, assistant secretary of APMC administration.

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