In its 43rd year of operations for farm commodities, the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Vashi near Mumbai is set to go online and sell commodities via electronic orders for delivery in a day or two. The beginning will be made in the food grain segment. Modalities are scgeduled to be finalized today.
The move began after the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) issued an advisory late Thursday evening to devise a strategy to reduce the number of entrants into the APMC yard and maintain social distancing to prevent spread of coronavirus. Covid-19 has infected over 120 mandi participants so far, including traders, farmers, workers and customers taking thereby total number of such patients to over 600 in the vicinity.
To avoid its further spread, the government of Maharashtra has decided to close the mandi for a week ending Sunday and begin only after proper sanitisation of the entire yard and health check up of all participants.
In order to draw a roadmap for online activities by linking with the electronic National Agricultural Mandi (eNAM), the state government has convened a meeting of all stakeholders including officials of the marketing department (which monitors APMC), trade associations, mandi officials and farmers’ representatives among others on Saturday.
Spread in 72.5 hectares in six separate sections, the APMC Vashi commenced physical selling of onion and potato in 1977. Three years later, the state government allowed trade in fruits, vegetables, spices and condiments among others. Foodgrains and pulses are major commodities traded through APMC Vashi where farmers, stockists, exporters, traders, wholesalers and retailers from Maharashtra as well as from rest of the country enter into the mandi to execute their deals.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, around one lakh people used to enter the Vashi mandi. But, the various restrictions including mandatory prior registration of vehicles and those aboard these vehicles, denial of permission to retail purchases below Rs 10,000 resulted into a sharp reduction in footfalls to 60,000 before the mandi went on to another week shutdown. The government has so far connected 962 mandis with eNAM to allow farmers sale of their produce to consumers nationwide for higher realisation. APMC Vashi has collected a total revenue of Rs 100 crore for finaical year 2018-19 through 2.75 per cent of mandi tax.