For representational purposes (File | Reuters)
NEW DELHI: While announcing an income support scheme for farmers in the interim Budget for 2019-20, Union minister Piyush Goyal highlighted the distress in the farm sector due to falling prices of agriculture commodities. However, a 2016 scheme launched by the government to help farmers get better prices for their produce through an integrated digital market platform still remains underutilized. According to the agriculture ministry, over one crore farmers are registered on the portal and around 45 lakh have benefited from the measure so far.
The government feels this is a notable achievement given the low digital literacy levels among farmers in the hinterlands, but there is plenty of room for improvement given that the number of small and marginal farmers in the country stands at 12 crore, as quoted by the Budget.
The Electronic-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), a pan-India electronic trading portal, was launched in April 2016 to integrate the existing APMC mandis and to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
Experts also cite the lack of infrastructure as the reason for the slow traction of e-NAM.
The main purpose of this measure was to create a unified market through online trading platform and promote uniformity by streamlining procedures, and remove information asymmetry between buyers and sellers. It is aimed at promoting real-time price discovery based on actual demand and supply. It offers transparency in auction process and access to a nationwide market for the farmer, with prices commensurate with quality of produce and payment through online mode. Consumers get better produce at reasonable prices.
‘Study needed on e-NAM platform’
Getting adequate prices for agricultural products has always been a major issue. Only about 30 per cent of the agricultural produce is procured by the government and farmers have to sell rest outside. “All mandis have not been integrated to the platform and the lack of infrastructure is hindering its implementation,” said agriculture policy expert Devinder Sharma.A government official said 585 regulated markets of 16 states and two Union territories have been integrated to the e-NAM platform and the government has decided to integrate additional 415 markets by March 2020.
The official said that earlier trade used to take place either within the APMC or between two APMCs situated in the same state. The first Inter State transaction in tomatoes has been carried out between trader of Bareilly in UP and farmer of Haldwani in Uttarakhand in January this year.