The move to deregulate sales of fruit and vegetables in Maharashtra in 2016 is now bearing fruit, as farmer markets are reportedly earning ₹5 crore on a weekly basis.
In a report presented to the National Institution for Transforming India, NITI Aayog, the state government revealed that the turnover of 94 farmer markets across Maharashtra has reached ₹5 crore per week, with sales in the region of 800-1,000 tonnes.
In June 2016, the state issued an ordinance amending the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act, 1963, deregulating the sale of vegetables and fruits. The amendment terminated forced sale of produce to wholesale traders, and allowed farmers to sell produce directly to consumers thus cutting out the middleman.
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The move came in the face of skyrocketing prices of vegetables and fruits. The state delisted fruit and vegetables from the APMC Act in an attempt to ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their produce and consumers pay reasonable rates for their purchases.
The move, which initially angered many traders and resulted in strikes across Mumbai, now seems to be having a favourable impact.
“For the first time, we are able to take home whatever we make. There is no need to give anyone commission or sell at low rates. Initially we were uncertain about the response and didn’t know if it was a good idea to incur additional transport costs and come to Mumbai to sell perishable goods like vegetables. But in the first two months itself we have been going back with an empty truck,” local trader Santosh Mane told the Times of India.
The deregulation of fruit and vegetable sales allows profits to go directly to local farmers and cultivators, instead of ending up in the pockets of middlemen. It also enables them to connect directly with consumers.
In April this year, Niti Ayog urged Indian states to take steps to double farmers’ income by 2022, that will mark India’s 75th year as an independent country. Niti Aayog also suggested land leasing reforms with provisions to secure rights of landowners and help them lease land to tenant farmers.