Come September and the Karnataka government's initiative in getting farmers a state-wide e-market would be replicated elsewhere. The aim is to create a national e-market in this regard. This proposed National Agriculture Market (NAM) is to come about by electronically linking 585 major wholesale markets (mandis) in the country, termed Agricultural Produce Market Committees. Implementation of this idea is the responsibility of the Small Farmers Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC). The project had been announced last July by the central government, with a Rs 200 crore allocation for three years.
The software contract has been awarded to a consortium led by Hyderabad-based Nagarjuna Fertilizers and Chemicals (NFC). "Online trading of 21 selected agri commodities will begin on the NAM in April, in 20 mandis. That will help bug fixing, if any, in the software. By September, about 200 mandis will be integrated with this platform and start trading of selected commodities online," said Vasudha Mishra, managing director, SFAC. She said the schedule is to link the 585 major mandis by September 2017.
NFC, with Techno Brain Global FZE, an information technology company with a global presence, will provide technical support. And, after developing the software, operate and maintain the NAM portal for five years. Training will be imparted to the participants, state-wise. Mishra said: "We have mandated them to use open source software."
The schedule is for linking 200 mandis by September, another 200 by March 2017 and the remaining 185 by September 2017.
NCDEX E-Markets, a subsidiary of the agri-centric National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange, had linked the mandis of Karnataka. Farmers in that state are able to sell to the best bidder and commission agents also deal through that platform. The produce is graded and assayed, with the farmers paid on the spot. Prices are quoted accordingly, with farmers able to choose the best offer from a mandi.
NCDEX E-Markets has also started linking the mandis in Andhra Pradesh and has signed a similar agreement with the government of Gujarat. Adds Mishra: "Both Gujarat and AP have said they will link their mandis to the NAM platform, once this is operational." Once NAM is fully operational, a farmer should be able to sell to anyone in the country who offers the best price.