Vashi grain APMC asked to submit reopening plan

Vashi-based Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) has agreed to review its closure from Monday after state officials along with Konkan region commissioner advised not to keep market yard close in times of crisis. The mandi had decided to keep the market close from Monday.

Mathadi leaders had raised concerns about health of their workers and other participants in the wake of Covid-19 outbreak. Vashi grain APMC officials assured the government they would meet on Monday and discuss the plan.

The plan will be submitted on April 15 about reopening the market yard. Deliveries from upcountry were unloaded in the market. However, before closure on Friday, 580 trucks full of grains were sent to Kirana stores in Mumbai, much higher than normal supply to ensure there is no shortage of food grain in the city.

Agricultural mandis in many parts of the country had started going operational a week after the nationwide lockdown was implemented, but the process is gradual and disruption persists in some centres. Most mandis are arranging for the safety of their workers, including mathadis (Load-bearers). Arrivals and supplies are also being regulated in many centres to maintain flow and avoid crowding.

In several areas, especially distant regions, there are reports of farmers either dumping vegetables that could not be delivered to the mandis or using them as animal feed. The scene in Gujarat is worrying. In MP and Rajasthan , oilseed supplies have been disrupted and crushing units are asking for permission to buy directly from farmers.

The Vashi vegetable mandi, which caters to Mumbai and surrounding areas, is now functioning but has adopted a system to keep crowds away, with different timing for arrivals and dispatches. The grain mandi has reduced crowds by a fifth with its novel strategy of supply keeping the arrivals of goods and supply to the city on alternative days, without disturbing the feed. At least 15,000 people enter the market yard everyday which is difficult to handle. The vegetable APMC has started issuing permits to control arrivals as per demand.

Shekhar Ghosh is a communications consultant and and former journalist, who has edited and written for publications such as like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today and Outlook.

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