Maharashtra: Bill Seeking To Amend AMPC Act Withdrawn, A Day After It Was Passed
The state government on Wednesday, November 28 withdrew a bill to amend the Agricultural Produce Marketing (Development and Regulation) Act from the legislative council, a day after it was passed. Reportedly, the bill allowed farmers to sell their yields outside the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC). The bill also sought to deregulate the APMCs.
Government slammed by opposition parties
With the wholesale being closed in protest on Tuesday and Wednesday, the government was slammed by opposition parties who said that they had earlier warned it that the amendment was not thought out and would inevitably lead to counterblast across the state at APMCs by loaders and traders.
“We had warned the government that the bill was effectively against mathadi (head loaders) workers as well, but the ruling parties didn’t listen to us,” said Dhananjay Munde, the leader of the opposition in the legislative council.
The government, as part of the bill, was from the purview of the APMC Act attempting to free important items to be sold outside the yards of the market. According to the proposition of the bill, there was taxation for traders who conducted business at the yards, and online trading was also allowed, as reported by The Times of India.
Maharashtra farmers affected by drought
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday, November 29, in the State Assembly has said, ” About 85.76 lakh hectare of cultivated area has been hit by drought. This involves 82.27 lakh farmers,” reported The Indian Express. Reportedly, more than half of Maharashtra has been hit by drought. The state has about 1.5 crore farmers.
The Opposition had demanded a relief assistance of Rs 1 lakh per hectare to cash crops and Rs 50,000 per hectare for other crops. Fadnavis has claimed that the government has set aside Rs 3,000 crore from the state’s budget. It has reportedly and sought a financial assistance of Rs 7,022 crore from the Centre for drought relief.
Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Regulation (APMC) Act
Agriculture marketing, in a narrow sense, refers to delivering farm products to the final consumers to farmers while ensuring the removal of intermediaries or money lenders to do away with farmer exploitation.
Under the APMC Act, it is mandatory that only in specified yards, sub-yards and market areas can the sale/purchase of agricultural commodities be carried out. The open auction will determine prices of them, and it will be conducted in a transparent way in the presence of a market committee official.
According to Civils Daily, various agencies’ market charges, statutory charges like taxes and market fees, as well as produce-handling charges are defined clearly, and no other deduction from the sale proceeds of farmers can be made. Across states and commodities, market charges, taxes and costs vary.
The act improved the way markets functioned and ensured that producers-sellers are not exploited by traders and mercantile capitals. Behind direct marketing, the rationale is that farmers, if they wished, should have the right to sell their produce to agribusiness firms directly in the form that buyers required, and at a low transaction cost.
In 2003, the government had come up with a model APMC Act, under which, cooperatives and the private sector may have the license to set up markets, and provides for the private players to engage in direct marketing and contract farming. In certain parts of the country, the proportion of contract farming and private trade has increased as a result of the Model Act.