Agricultural markets (mandis) began to reopen in many parts of the country a week after the national ban was imposed. However, the process was gradual and operations were discontinued in some centers.
The mandis who continued to operate introduced security measures for workers and restrictions on arrivals and supplies to avoid congestion.
However, reports from across the country have indicated that farmers abandoned their produce after being unable to deliver it to mandis or use it as animal feed. In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the supply of oilseeds has been affected and, as a result, the oil grinding units have applied for authorization to purchase directly from farmers.
In Mumbai, the Vashi vegetable mandi works but has adopted a system to ward off crowds by instituting different times for arrivals and shipments. The grain mandi reduced crowds by a fifth thanks to a new strategy of sourcing and receiving goods every two days.
“At least 15,000 people enter the market every day, which is unmanageable. So we decided to limit entry, ”said Sushil Singatkar, meeting director of the Vashi Agricultural Products Market Committee (APMC).
Wardha’s APMC plans to open the food grain trade on Friday. “To maintain social distancing, we will reserve sales orders in 10 lots of farmers at a time and allow 10 buyers to attend the auction,” said Shyam Bhimraoji Karlekar, president of Wardha APMC.
The Lasalgaon APMC in Maharashtra, the largest onion market in Asia, was closed during the holidays and remained closed after a Covid-19 patient was identified in a nearby village. “The administration asked us to respect the lock because all the villages close to the Mandi were quarantined. As this coincides with the end of the fiscal year, the market will remain closed until the next government order, “said Narendra Wadhvane, APMC secretary.
In Gujarat, the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables has been relatively immune to blockage, while the impact has been most felt on the sale of grains, pulses and edible oil. “We are seeing daily arrivals with minimal impact. Compared to 17,000 quintals of fresh vegetables a day, arrivals have fallen to 15,000 quintals, “said Dipak Patel, secretary of Ahmedabad APMC.
However, cereals and pulses have had some impact since the depletion of stocks, and new entrants will take time to reach markets.
“The auction of cereals and pulses at the APMC is closed. The harvest is ready in the fields but the workers are not available. The supply line was also affected because transportation moved slowly due to the lockout. There has been a shortage of supplies from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, there is not yet a shortage. For example, wheat is available in government warehouses, but private warehouses are empty, “said Ramesh Saraf, president of the All Gujarat Roller Flour Mill Association.
In the Saurashtra region, cities like Rajkot have seen the price of peanut oil rise to Rs 2,270 per 15 kg of tin. According to APMC sources, the crushing of oil has almost closed due to interruptions in peanut arrivals. The National Federation of Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives of India (Nafed) has halted the auction and currently has 600,000 tonnes of groundnut stock.
The state has authorized resumption of operations in recent days and vegetable deliveries have since doubled on the wholesale market from Koyambedu to Chennai.
However, the problem is the continuous supply of retailers, as farmers continue to send vegetables in bulk. Chandran, president of the Association of Licensed Dealers in the Koyambedu Market, said exits had declined significantly after the announcement of the foreclosure.
Only 30% of arrivals were sold, the rest wasted and farmers and traders suffered losses. Another problem facing the markets is the labor shortage, as the number of workers has fallen to around 1,000 from 10,000 previously, and costs have also quadrupled.
Perhaps for the first time since 2007, when the state suspended the APMC law, farmers in Bihar are facing a crisis of not having a centralized place to sell their produce despite demand. As a result, farmers in many places throw away vegetables or use them as animal feed. Wheat supplies have been delayed and factories are unable to produce or supply wheat flour, resulting in shortages in retail markets and higher prices. The government intervened to normalize prices.
As agricultural market yards have been closed statewide, the government has made other arrangements to buy paddy, corn, and other produce during the current rabi season directly from farmers in their villages or centers designated government procurement.
The government has granted loan guarantees worth 25,000 crore rupees for the purchase of paddy and 3,000 crore rupees for the purchase of maize from farmers in the coming months. This has helped maintain the supply of essentials like vegetables.
All the dedicated fruit and vegetable markets in Hyderabad have been kept open, allowing farmers to bring produce directly from neighboring districts without any hindrance. Vegetable prices were also under control due to good availability.
Delhi, Punjab and Haryana
The foreclosure affected the supply of fruit and vegetables to Asia’s largest agricultural market in the national capital, Azadpur. Although central and state government agencies have taken steps to facilitate the intra and interstate movement of agricultural and horticultural products, the situation is far from normal.
“Business in Azadpur mandi is down more than 50%. Most of our supply comes from Maharashtra and over the past week, the number of trucks from the state has decreased significantly, “said Rohit Chawla of Chawla Fresh Vegetables, Azadpur. The situation was more or less similar in the neighboring Punjab and Haryana mandis. “The arrival of UP agricultural products has also declined when demand has already been falling,” said Gyanchand of Gyanchand & Sons, Azadpur.
At Posta Bazar in Kolkata, the stores open by rotation as planned by the mandi. Although Chandan Chakraborti, president of the Posta Bazaar Merchant Association, the market does not have fresh food from grains and pulses and other essential food items outside the state, the market has enough stocks to respond to the next 15 days. He said that the availability of workers was a big problem.
(Report by Dilip Kumar Jha, Vinay Umarji, TE Narasimhan, Virendra Singh Rawat, Dasarath Reddy, Namrata Acharya)