Agriculture & Industry Survey spoke to Mr. S. Selvakumar, IAS, to learn about the activities of the two organizations he is heading. Mr. Selvakumar is the director of the Department of Agricultural Marketing and managing director of Karnataka State Agricultural Marketing Board. Both the organizations were established in 1972.
Objectives of Department of Agricultural Marketing
The objectives of the Department are enforcing better regulation of sale and purchase of
agricultural produce brought by the agriculturist to the market yards and providing a platform to ensure competitive prices, correct weighment, payment and creating an exploitation free atmosphere by preventing illegal activities in the marketing of agricultural produce.
The activities of Department include implementation of Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing Act; implementation of the license aspect of the Karnataka Warehouses Act; and the implementation of the Agricultural Produce Act, to the extent of establishment of Agmark Grading Laboratories and issue of Agmark certificates in the state.
APMCs in Karnataka
There are 146 APMCs in Karnataka. These APMCs have established many market yards and submarket yards for trading of notified agricultural commodities. There are 146 main market yards and 352 sub market yards in the state. Each market committee is managed by 18 members representing all the sections of people involved in agricultural marketing.
The APMCs have the responsibility to implement the KAPM (R&D) Act in their jurisdiction. When the farmers bring their commodities to the regulated markets for sale they ensure prompt weighment of produce, competitive price through better systems of sale like auction and tender, ensure timely payment of sale proceeds to the farmers and see that the market charges are collected as per the act, rules and byelaws of the market committees.
Another activity of APMCs is to provide basic infrastructure facilities for trade. These include market yard, auction platform, godowns, shops cum godowns, drying platforms, roads, electricity, drinking water, sanitary, drainage and such other facilities and also provide space for banks, post offices, firefighting offices and rest houses for farmers etc. After providing the basic facilities in the market yard, if the committees have funds they also provide facilities like auction house, drinking water facility in the rural markets, thrashing yards in the rural areas, rural godowns, rural link roads etc.,
Schemes Implemented by the Department
The schemes implemented by the department for the betterment of farmers include the following:
· Dissemination of information through ‘Maratavahini’ website: A network of all the markets in the state has been created for the online information flow since 2002. Immediately after determining the prices in the market through open auction or tender system the same will be disseminated online through the website along with daily arrivals, minimum, maximum and modal prices. ‘Maratavahini’ is uplinked to the Agmarknet website of the Government of India.
· Pledge Loan scheme: The scheme is implemented by APMCs in the state to avoid distress sale by farmers immediately after harvest. Under this scheme loan to the extent of 60% of the value produce pledged or Rs.50,000 whichever is less is provided to the farmers as loan. The loan is interest free for first 30 days.
· RIDF Scheme: Rural markets are developed with the assistance of NABARD to enable the farmers dispose of their produce in the nearby production centers. Minimum facilities like covered auction platforms, drinking water, electricity, storage facilities are provided in the markets So far about Rs. 52 crores have been spent for the development of 387 rural markets. This scheme is being continued for development of other rural markets in phases.
· Development of Cotton markets under TMC: In order to create hygienic and clean facilities cotton markets in the state are being developed under the Technology Mission on Cotton Scheme of government of India. So far 10 markets in the state have been developed with the 40% assistance of Rs.7.58 crores from TMC. In addition to that, 3 more markets are being developed with 40% assistance of Rs.1.83 crores.
· Raithara Santhe (Farmers market): The department has developed farmers markets (Raithara Santhe) to create a direct interface between the consumer and the farmer for the sale of fruits and vegetables on a retail basis. Preliminary survey has been conducted by the University of Agricultural Sciences on the basis of which a few markets have been developed and provided facilities for direct sale of the produce from farmers to the consumers. The farmers are identified and issued identity cars with photos. They bring their produce to the market and the stalls are allotted on first come first serve basis. They are given weighing scales and plastic crates to facilitate marketing of their produce. The retail prices are fixed daily with the consultation of the farmers present in the market. Normally the prices are 20% above the wholesale price and the 20% below the retail prices prevailing the market. So far 15 farmer markets have been developed for the benefit of the farmers.
· Sale of commodities through Electronic Tender System: In order to minimize the time spent in processing of tender slips through which the prices are quoted by the traders in the market, electronic tender system is introduced in Mysore market as a pilot project. Under this system the farmers are given a lot number for the produce and same is displayed before the commission agents shops or in auction platform. Traders will inspect the produce, ascertain the quality and quote their price. After stipulated time the tenders are processed and tender declaration slip is obtained. The information could be obtained by the trader through computer in their office itself. This has avoided time lag in announcing the prices and weighment of the produce for dispatch. So far 13 commodities have been included in the process and the system is proposed to be extended to all the major markets in the state.
Source of Fund
APMCs themselves meet major portion of expenditure for developmental works and day-to-day administration. They are empowered to collect market fee at the rate of 1.5% advalorem on the sale of notified commodities from the purchaser. Apart from this license fees, rents from the shops and money received on sale of site or buildings in the market yard are the other sources of income. However, some financial assistance by way of loan or grant is also obtained for developmental works from government of India under the Market Infrastructure Development Scheme, National Horticultural Mission, from NABARD for rural market development, commercial banks etc.,
Activities of Karnataka State Agricultural Marketing Board
KSAMB is a promotional and advisory Board. It advises the state government and department and the market committees on regulation and development of agricultural marketing activities. It helps the state government formulate polices and programme with respect to development of agricultural marketing in the state.
Other activities of the Board include, organizing training and extension programme, undertaking printing works of the APMCs, Departments, Board and Publication of “Krishipete” monthly magazine in local language, provide financial assistance by way of loan to the APMCs for development of market infrastructure, implement the Floor Price Scheme of government of Karnataka to help the farmers against distress sale of produces implement the Raitha Sanjeevini, welfare scheme for farmers where compensation up to Rs. 50,000.00 in case of accidental death, and maximum of Rs. 15,000 in case of accidental permanent disability caused while doing agricultural production or marketing activities, and also implement the Group Insurance Scheme with the help of the LIC to the hamals, weightmen, and cartmen working in APMCs.
Floor Price Scheme
Floor Price Scheme is a unique scheme of the state. The objective of the scheme is to help the farmers through procurement for a fixed price under the market intervention activities. Under this scheme tomato, onion, potato and green chilies which are not covered under the MSP scheme of government of India have been included initially. A fund called ‘Revolving Fund’ has been created for this purpose for which the state government and the APMCs in the state contribute. This fund is also being utilized to supplement the MSP scheme of India and to facilitate the immediate payment to the farmers. Commodities such jowar, paddy, ragi, tur, blackgram, greengram, copra, arecanut etc., have also been procured by utilizing the Revolving Fund. So far about Rs. 311 crores has been mobilized and about Rs.653 crores worth commodities have been procured by revolving the amount and about 3,50,606 farmers are benefited.
Giving his view on how he envisages the development of agricultural marketing in the state in future, Mr. Selvakumar says, “In the days to come agricultural marketing is going to get a boost because of the liberalization and promotion polices of both central and state government. The Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing (Regulation & Development) Act, as per the latest amendments, provides opportunity for the establishment of private markets yard, direct marketing by farmers, contract farming, establishment of farmers-consumer market by private people, establishment of commodity spot exchange for e-trading, establishment of grading and standardization bureau and public private partnership for providing infrastructure.
All these changes are going to bring in a vast change in the agricultural marketing sector and it is hoped that the farmers will be able to get better returns for their produce.”