For long, farmers had been denied the freedom to sell their products to anyone, anywhere and anytime with the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) exercising monopoly to the detriment of the interests of farmers. While many have been demanding the removal of the barriers to trade in farm produce, it mostly fell on deaf ears of the state governments. It should be noted here that “agriculture”, “markets” and “fairs” fall under the State List of the seventh schedule of our Constitution. Under these circumstances, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre took a decision to dismantle the monopoly of the APMC mandis in the wholesale trading of farm commodities. No doubt, it is a long overdue step and deserves praise.
The decision to dismantle the monopoly of the APMC should not be perceived as an onslaught on the spirit of cooperative federalism or an encroachment into the rights of the states. With states not having taken any worthwhile steps to reform the APMC, the Centre was forced to exercise its power under the provisions of Entry 33 of the Concurrent List of the Constitution. However, in the guise of doing away with the monopoly of APMC, the Union government should not attempt to dismantle it. It is time farmers are given enough freedom to bring their produce to mandis that have good infrastructure such as auction platforms, weighbridges, godowns and so on.
M Jeyaram Sholavandan
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