Have the Farm Bills already resulted in reduced crop arrivals at Mandis?

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Amid the row over the three new federal farm laws aimed at giving unfettered market access to farmers, the producers of various crops seem to have started to rely much less on the organised APMC mandis, says a report in the Financial Express.

According to data reviewed by Financial Express, of the 10 major kharif crops namely paddy (common), jowar, bajra, maize, arhar, moong, urad, soyabean, groundnut and cotton, mandi arrivals have dropped in the case of seven crops, in the range of 3-53% in October from the year-ago period.

Only three crops — groundnut, jowar and moong — have recorded higher arrivals this year. Even in the case of jowar and moong, arrivals fell in the largest-producing states of Maharashtra by 39% and by 7 per cent in Rajasthan. Only groundnut has recorded both higher arrivals pan-India as well as in all three top-producing states – Gujarat, Rajasthan and Karnataka. This could be due to higher production of the oilseed, at 9.54 million tonnes, up by 14% from the previous season.

As the kharif-harvesting season progresses, the impact of the reforms is beginning to get reflected with diminishing business of traders and arthiyas in mandis in terms of volume.

As the arrivals also started earlier than last year, the cumulative data of crop arrivals at mandis across India should have been higher. The fall in volume at mandis could be a result of farmers’ producers’ organisations (FPOs) increasing their business, traders argue.

Concerned over the agitation by a section of farmers and Opposition parties, especially in states like Punjab and Haryana against the farm sector reforms, the Centre has set a target to purchase 74.2 million tonne paddy (nearly 50 million tonne in terms of rice) in the current kharif marketing season (October-March), 18% higher than last season’s 62.7 million tonne.

As for the ongoing kharif procurement, the Food Corporation of India has so far purchased 19 million tonne of paddy across the country, which is 24% higher than in the corresponding period last year. Given farmers’ agitation in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana, the procurement season was advanced by a few days and started from September 26, instead of normal schedule of October 1.

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