Agri Business

Gujarat APMC yards suspend trading to tackle Covid second wave

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on April 14, 2021

Farmers worried as Rabi crops harvest is on, stocks pile up

Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yards in Gujarat have suspended trading activities following a sharp rise in Covid-19 positives, leaving farmers in the State sitting on a pile of harvested winter crops and a worried lot.

The Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) at Rajkot, one of the largest market yards in Saurashtra region, on Tuesday announced suspension of trading activities till further notice. The yard is a major place of trade for jeera (cumin seed), cotton, pulses, groundnut, castor, wheat, onion and potato.

Blow to farmers

This has come as a setback to farmers. “We were waiting for government to procure wheat. I have about 50 quintals of unsold harvested wheat laying on my fields. We are in need of money, but the markets are closed till further notice. It is very uncertain scenario, and we are clueless what to do,” Tarshibhai Vekariya from Khamta village of Rajkot district told BusinessLine.

Vekariya has tested positive for Covid-19 and is under home isolation as on Wednesday.

On the lines of Rajkot APMC, many other APMCs from the State suspended trading activities to avoid gatherings at the yard and prevent further spread of the pandemic.

In North Gujarat, another major APMC yard, Unjha, announced voluntary lockdown for seven days with infections rising in the region. In a public notice on Monday, Unjha APMC said, “In view of the current outbreak situation, a meeting was convened by the civic authority of Unjha town with Unjha traders’ association and market yard agents’ association. It was collectively decided to voluntarily shut down the APMC yard from April 14 to April 21.”

Price & supply dynamics may change

Unjha is the largest market for seed spices including cuminseed, corianderseed, fennel seed and fenugreek, besides other commodities.

The suspension of trading at a time when the harvest season is at the peak could result into a blow to farmers.

On the one hand, several commodities have shown downtrend in prices over the past one week amidst fears of a possible lockdown causing demand destruction. On the other, the suspended trading would create a supply glut.

As a result, farmers will flood the markets with their produces when they resume trading. This could further squeeze the prices following a sharp jump in supplies within a relatively short time.

An onion producer from Morbi, Hussain Ali Khorjiya, informed that red onion off-take has come to a halt as markets are not functional. The last traded price was ₹700 -800 a quintal. “But with consuming markets like hotels, restaurants closed in many big cities, prices have started declining. I am sitting on a huge pile of unsold onions. I harvested about 2,400 quintals of onions on 20 acres. I have sold some over the past couple of weeks, but still I am left with a huge unsold quantity.”

He fears the prices to correct after markets open and get flooded. “We may have to face losses from the remaining crop,” he added.

Among the districts where APMCs are shut include Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Amreli, Mehsana, besides Morbi and Rajkot.

Published on April 14, 2021

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