A farmer-turned-promoter of a private mandi, set up 25 kilometres from India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district, has supported the now-repealed farm laws with some amendments even if it results in lower revenue for him. At the same time he wants government to support private sector in agriculture marketing when there is need for initial handholding.

Speaking to BusinessLine , Vijay Singh, the promoter of PTM Krishi Mandi, said: “First I am a farmer and there should be freedom to sell anywhere. Before the new laws were made by the Centre, our farmers had freedom to travel to Gujarat. But they could only sell only at some mandis there. After the repeal, they will continue to sell only at mandis whereas the laws had allowed them to sell directly to companies.”

However, Singh, who is fighting a legal battle with the State for allowing another private mandi in the area, wants traders also to pay some fees to the government in buying directly from farmers. He wants both systems- mandis and direct purchase – to co-exist, though he is not sure if traders will continue to flock to his market yard once this system comes into effect. “Some traders continue to buy outside PTM mandi directly from farmers,” he said.

The arrivals of crops in PTM Krishi Mandi dropped 34 per cent to 898.26 tonnes in 2020-21 following Covid lockdown that allowed traders to buy directly from farmers. In value term, the fall was 46 per cent at ₹3.61 crore.

“This fiscal, the arrivals improved in April-May as there was higher production of chana in our area,” Singh said, adding that about 545 tonnes were recorded in these two months, which is the peak harvesting period of rabi season.

Having started his mandi in August 2018 near Sultana village, Singh was hopeful of serving the local farmers who used to travel 80 kilometres to Jaisalmer to sell their crops. However, after Covid pandemic many traders have closed shops in the mandi, which Singh said is also a factor for lower arrival. Farmers want larger participation of traders in auction and the government’s electronic platform can help in this direction, Singh said.

“We are ready to join the e-NAM (electronic National Agriculture Market), but need some guidance. If the government can assure us of payment to the farmers by the buyers, we can ensure quality and delivery,” Singh said.

Pointing out that some farmers of his area collectively go to Unjha, Gujarat, situated at a distance of over 500 kilometres, to sell their cumin, he said, if e-NAM helps them to sell their produce at right price they may prefer to sell virtually throught the digital platform..

There are 12 mandis in the private sector allowed by Rajasthan since it liberalised agri marketing in 2016, out of which six are said to be operational.