Agri Business

Maharashtra farmers to agitate against ‘deals under handkerchief’ in APMC markets

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on November 25, 2020 Published on November 25, 2020

File Photo   -  The Hindu

This practice has been going on for ages and traders have reaped the benefit of the system

Vikram Raskar, a farmer, recently took watermelon from his farm to the Mumbai Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Vashi. In a few minutes, he saw retailers and traders put their hands under a handkerchief and press fingers. The price negotiation was completed within a few minutes but Vikaram who was witness to the deal didn’t understand the private negotiation language. He was given ₹20,200 as the price for his produce. This handkerchief deal is called as hathaa and continues unabated across APMC markets.

Later, Vikram checked with retailers and others in the APMC and found that his produce was sold at a much higher price. He approached Shetkari Sanghatana leaders who, in turn, made the incident viral on social media. The trader came to Vikram and gave him ₹27,400 and requested him to delete the social media post.

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“It is not just Vikram, but thousands of farmers who are being looted in the APMC markets where deals are struck under a handkerchief. This has been going for ages and traders have reaped the benefit of this system. We are going to launch an agitation in the first week of December demanding that dealings at the APMC must be transparent and farmers must know at what price their produce is being sold,” said Anil Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana. Farmers have also raised objections on the weights used to major produce and excessive charges collected from farmers.

“Probably this would be the only example in the world where the producer of the product is not aware of its price. Arhtiyas, traders and APMC officials are hand in glove to loot farmers. Despite various rules and laws, farmers are still looted,” Prashant Patil, a farmer, said.

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In almost all APMCs, arhtiyas play the role on money lender and farmers borrow from them at excessive interest rates. Farmers enter into a vicious circle by taking advance loans against standing crops and are compelled to sell the produce through them.

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Published on November 25, 2020
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