Traders, farmers resist Gujarat govt order to resume commodities auctions

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on April 14, 2020 Published on April 14, 2020

Agricultural Produce Market Committees across the State decide not to resume operations fearing the spread of the Covid-19


Just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nation-wide lockdown extension till May 3, the Gujarat government on Tuesday asked all the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) across the State to resume auctions with specified regulations.

However, farmers, traders, commission agents and the APMC management have raised an objection to the State dictat and declined to resume operations. The auction of rabi crops including wheat, cumin seed, coriander, chana and other crops have been halted after the APMCs suspended trading following fears of a spread of coronavirus infections.

Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Vijay Rupani, on Tuesday ordered resuming auctions of agricultural commodities at the APMCs from April 15 and insisted that each APMC follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) listed out for each stakeholder.

These SOPs include formation of a committee at the district level to resume the auctions at the yards, advance registration of the farmers and sequential auctions of the farmer’s produce, allotting specific days for specific commodities, including vegetables and grains, besides ensuring social distancing and safety measures.

However, APMC managements collectively raised objections to this order expressing fears of a spread of the coronavirus infections in the villages.

“It is difficult to follow these instructions in an APMC yard because we face chaotic conditions there during normal days. We are opposed to this directive of the government because resuming operations at APMC means risking farmers from the potential viral infections. We had conducted a video conference with the government where we had expressed our concerns regarding this. So, the APMCs have collectively decided not to resume auctions,” said DK Sakhiya, Chairman, Rajkot APMC - largest and most prominent market yard in Saurashtra.

Maintaining distance

But Sakhiya also clarified that non-resumption of auctions won’t mean farmers will not be able to sell their crops. “We are devising a strategy, where in buyers/traders along with commission agents wil directly visit the farmers and make the purchases. This is much safer as against bringing together farmers, labourers, traders, commission agents, transporters and APMC management staff all together at one place,” he added.

APMCs in North and Central Gujarat, Saurashtra have all asked their members, traders and farmers about suspension of the trading activities at the yards till further notice. These include some of the large yards including Rajkot, Gondal, Bhabhar, Unjha, Jamnagar, Hapa, Deesa, Patan, among others.

The APMC management has asked their commission agents and traders to make purchases from the farmers directly and avoid gatherings at the APMCs.

Published on April 14, 2020

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