Normally, during the monsoon, vegetable supply gets interrupted due to slow harvesting in muddy fields, non-availability or delay in transport and fear of high spoilage. Since the normal seasonal vegetables are harvested in August, the pre-season sown crop with mechanised irrigation facility is hitting the mandis, especially in Maharashtra.
“Farmers turned entrepreneurs for the first time to sell their vegetables directly to consumers. They bring truckloads directly to consumer centres and sell directly, ignoring the middlemen,” said Shri Ram Gadhave, president, Vegetable Growers Association of India.
Middlemen say they aren’t perturbed, pointing to the slump in prices as evidence. “Arhatiyas (middle agents) are an integral part of the trade system, as they release the quantity as required; they hold farm output for another day. Farmers would not have such a carryover system. Hence, farmers would not be able to execute direct sales for long. And, unlike arhatiyas, no one would extend farmers the monetary support for their needs. Hence, they’d have to come back to us,” said Sanjay Bhujbal, a vegetables trader in at the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC)-run mandi at Vashi, Navi Mumbai.
In January this year, the central government had proposed that state governments delist fruits and vegetables from the ambit of the APMC law. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka accepted earlier; Maharashtra followed suit in July.