Agri Business

APMCs welcome agri infra fund announcement

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on February 01, 2021

With this, farmers are assured the set up of APMC won’t be pulled down

Making available the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) for augmenting the APMCs infrastructure facilities in the Budget is being seen an long overdue reform by all the agricultural market participants.

Director of Vashi APMC, Sanjay Pansare, said that the new and advance infrastructure is the need of the hour as most of the infrastructure at APMCs is at least 30 years old. A dedicated fund will help with faster creation of infrastructure at the APMCs.

Policy dilly-dally

Chairperson of Lasalgaon APMC, Suvarna Jagtap, said that earlier there was a perception that the Centre was keen on shutting down all the APMCs in the country. But today’s budgetary provision of creating an infrastructure fund points towards sustaining the APMCs. However, for major commodities such as onions a long-term policy is required. Unplanned decisions of the Centre such as export ban on onion and in a few months again reopening the market for exports is not got for the trade. Only a sustained and long-term policy will create good infrastructure in the APMCs. Today the APMCs need onion storage in line with the arrivals in the market, she said.

On the other hand, Director of APMC at Koregaon in Satara district of Maharashtra, Shahaji Bhoite, said most small APMCs in state such as Maharashtra are in financial problems, as the cess levied by APMCs on vegetable sale has been discontinued and other source of incomes have also been stopped. Only large APMCs closer to the cities such as Mumbai and Pune are doing well. Therefore, the first step should be to revive the APMCs and only then infrastructure enhancement could happen, he said.

Cold storage in phased manner

Secretary of the JNPT port-based Reefer Container Transporters Welfare Association, Sunil Mulik, said that APMCs handle a huge amount of fresh and perishables foods items but most lack even the basic cold storage facilities. Fresh fruits and vegetables require pre-cooling before stuffing in containers. It increases the shelf life of such products, but such facilities are not available in APMCs. Exporters at time of loading one kind of vegetable at a cold storage then go to APMCs for another kind of vegetable or fruits. Such issues add to the processing and good handling costs. If all the fresh foods are available in one place for final stuffing of export containers, then it will reduce operational costs, he said.

Mulik pointed out that the fund should be used for creating 25,000 to 50,000 tonnes of cold storage facilities at all large APMCs. In the first phase of cold storages, which can store fresh fruits and vegetables at 0 to 10 degree centigrade cooling, should be set up. In the next phase, meats and fish requiring minus 5 to minus 25 degree centigrade cooling could be created. Today a number of exporters suffer losses because after a cargo shipment reaches its foreign destinations, but the importers complain of fungal growth, especially on fruits. A part of the consignment gets rejected affecting the earnings of the exporters and consequently the foreign exchange coming in the country.

An onion trader from Lasalgaon APMC in Nashik district of Maharashtra, Nitin Jain, said that when such a new infrastructure will get created then the government should also define all those who would be its rightful users. The facilities should be available on first come, first served basis. For commodities such as onions, the prices tend to get volatile in September and October because small farmers do not have enough storage capacity to store the crop and have to make a distress sales, he said.

On the other hand, traders do not have capacity to store the crop in the APMCs. Therefore, for onion crop, large natural air regulated warehouses are the need of the hour. For other crops such as potatoes and tomatoes, new high capacity cold storages are required. Such storages will help regulate the market and interest of all market players will get protected, Jain said.

Published on February 01, 2021

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