The Union Budgets of 2014-15 and 2015-16 provided the first clear hints of a major change in the functioning of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis across the country. The e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) will complete three years of its launch.
- The Budget announcements related to the establishment of an Agri-Tech Infrastructure Fund (ATIF) and the creation of an e-portal for the National Agriculture Market that would link farmers and traders within States as well as inter-State.
- The ATIF received a budget allocation of Rs 200 crore to begin operations and the scheme envisaged the deployment of a common e-market platform — to be called e-NAM — in 585 select, regulated wholesale agricultural produce markets by March 2018.
The overarching aim was to enhance farmer income through the following objectives:-
- To integrate markets, beginning at the State level and then taking the process forward across the country through a common online market platform that would facilitate a pan-India trade in agricultural commodities;
- To streamline marketing and transaction procedures and establish uniformity across all markets with a view to promoting efficient functioning of these markets;
- To enhance better marketing avenues for both the seller (farmers) and the buyer (trader) through online access, removal of informal asymmetry between farmer and trader, better and real-time price discovery based on actual demand and supply, transparency in the auction process, ensuring price that is commensurate with quality, and online payments to plug leakages and delays;
- To put in place quality testing facilities that would help in better informed biddings by buyers;
- To promote stability in pricing and ensure availability of quality produce to the end consumer.
Working of e-NAM –
- The Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) was mandated with the key task of implementation.
- It had to manage and seamlessly integrate both the virtual market (e-NAM) and the backend ‘physical’ market as well.
- The online process involved a one-time registration of farmers/sellers, creation and processing of details at the entry gate, weighing, quality checking, auctions/trade transactions, payments by buyers to sellers and other agencies involved in the rain of transaction.
- The physical aspect dealt with the entire market flow of agricultural commodities.
- Experts were roped in to develop a special software for e-NAM, which was provided free of cost to any market that opted to join the national network.
- All these were specialised jobs and the Union Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare (which helmed the scheme) decided to rope in a Hyderabad-based private player and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) as a Technical Partner.
It emphasised the need for States and Union Territories to initiate APMC reforms (agriculture is a State subject) in three primary areas to qualify for assistance in operating the e-portal trading system.
- The first was to have a single trading licence that would be valid throughout the State.
- The second was to ensure that was a single point levy of market fee across the State.
- And the third was to have the State agriculture marketing department or similar such body directly facilitate the provision for e-auction/e-trading.
The Operational Guidelines observed that appropriate State legislation or an executive order would be needed to establish a single trading licence across the State.
Performance evaluation –
- So far, more than one crore farmers have been registered on the e-NAM portal nationwide; the registration of farmers increased dramatically from 37.96 lakh during 2016-17 to over 50 lakh during 2017-18.
- As on March 23, 2018, e-NAM had completed the integration of 585 regulated markets on the e-market platform in 16 States and two Union Territories — this was ahead of the targeted date of March 31 the same year.
- Now the plan is to integrate 415 more markets by March 2020.
- Initially started with just 25 commodities, the e-trade facility now covers 114 commodities.
- The problem of convincing the stakeholders to adopt the e-NAM platform remains a niggling one in many places. Farmers, traders and commission agents — they all have some issues.
- The trader is worried about coming into the tax net once he deals through the electronic medium, the farmer is concerned about getting a lower price if his product is assayed (quality tested), and the commission agent is bothered about eventually being left out of the system.
One feeds into the other’s fears, and together they seek to maintain the status quo. Clearly, more needs to be done.
Source – VIF India
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