The Maharashtra government is looking at several options to generate alternate sources of revenue for Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) that may struggle to survive once the farm laws are fully implemented in the state. A study committee has been formed to suggest ways and means to enhance revenues for market committees, Satish Soni, director of marketing, Maharashtra, said.
A circular issued to market committees talks of setting up solar power projects within the environs, establishing petrol pumps and even CNG gas stations to enable them to generate revenues, he said. “The committee, which comprises stakeholders from the APMCs and the state government, will attempt to suggest measures to increase income of APMCs. This could include solar power projects, petrol pumps and any other measures suggested by the committee,” he said.
The state marketing directorate has also issued licences for over 70 private markets and 1,070 direct marketing licences (DMLs) which could also pose a threat to APMCs.
Maharashtra has 307 APMCs, many of which are struggling to survive. With new farms introduced by the Centre, farmers now have the option to decide whether they want to sell their produce in APMC mandis, private traders or to farmer producer companies. Although the Supreme Court has decided to stay the implementation of farm laws, some of the APMC officials believe it is only a matter of time before the laws are implemented. Soni is of the opinion that mandis need to be prepared in advance with alternate sources of income to be able to continue to run efficiently.
Arvind Jagtap, secretary, Baramati APMC, pointed out that electricity bill of the APMC is Rs 1 lakh per month. In such a case, a solar power project will help the APMC save these expenses, he said. Jagtap said APMCs will need to put their act together to be compete once markets open up. Nearly 100 APMCs in the state are facing financial problems, he said.
Sudhir Kothari, chairman, Hinganghat APMC, pointed out that farmers in Maharashtra have been selling their produce outside APMCs from 2006-07. While initially this did not take off, the number of people with direct marketing licences doing business has increased over the last couple of years, he said. Although the SC has stayed the farm laws, these laws will be implemented at some point and the income of APMCs is bound to reduce. Therefore, measures are needed to create alternate sources of income, Kothari said, adding that several APMCs in the state are not in a position to pay employee salaries.