A worker carries a sack of vegetables in the rain at Vashi Agricultural Produce Market Committee wholesale market in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Why Maharashtra Farmers Don’t Want To Sell Outside APMCs

The Maharashtra government may have permitted farmers in the state to sell in the open market, but the message doesn’t seem to have reached the intended beneficiaries.

Farmers told BloombergQuint they prefer to sell their produce and livestock in the government-regulated Agriculture Produce Market Committees, or mandis.

While some farmers were unaware of the move, another section didn’t perceive it to be profitable.

This included the sellers of vegetables, fruits and spices not mandated to market their produce in the mandis as per an amendment to the APMC Act in 2016.

BloombergQuint spoke to farmers at the Gultekdi APMC in Pune and the weekly market at Saswad village, 30 kilometres from Pune. The reasons farmers stayed away from private marketplaces included:

Lack Of Awareness

Farmers didn’t know that they could sell outside the APMCs. Ashish Shelar, a cauliflower farmer in Purandar taluk, that BloombergQuint spoke to, insisted that farmers cannot sell directly, they must first sell in mandis.

Private Firms Buy From Large Farmers

Since private firms buy produce in bulk from large farmers, those with land holdings of less than five acres—that comprised the majority in Saswad village—couldn’t. Farmers who found transportation costs high refrained from selling in cities, while others sold directly to smaller retailers and customers.

Advantages Of APMCs

Higher transportation expenses, lower prices in private markets, lack of bulk buyers and difficult access meant that the mandi was the most profitable option for many farmers. Even APMC traders agreed that the private marketplaces hadn’t taken off. “Farmers aren’t able to sell profitably outside mandis,” Dastagiri Inamdar, a trader at the Gultekdi APMC, told BloombergQuint. Some farmers who tried to sell outside APMCs returned as their business didn’t take off, he said.

Yet, the government doesn’t perceive that as a challenge. “When there will be a level-playing field, there will be competition,” said Deepak Tware, director of agriculture marketing in Maharashtra. “This easing of markets will bring investments and competition will give more options for farmers to sell their produce and it will also give good rates for them.”

The move, he said, will strengthen modern marketing channels and create a level-playing field for all—APMCs, private markets, direct marketing licence holders and even contract farming firms.