The state governments have been informally told to encourage farmers/traders to utilise the electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) and avoid physical presence at auction site amid COVID-19 scare, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said on Thursday.
Right now, farmers auction their agriculture produce at 6,900-odd APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees) mandis spread across the nation.
Some farmers are also using online bidding through e-NAM platform at 585 mandis.
"We have informally discussed with state agriculture marketing departments and mandi officials about the need to encourage farmers/traders to make use of the e-NAM platform in the current situation and ensure there is less crowd at auction site," the ministry official told PTI.
e-NAM provides distant bidding facility for wholesale produce in APMC mandis without the need for physical presence of buyer/trader near the auction site for bidding, the official said.
The electronic platform also provides e-payment facility through which traders can pay farmers after trade is executed from anywhere, be it home or office, without going to banks, thus avoiding crowd, the official added.
e-NAM, the ministry official said thus provides excellent avenue of social distancing while carrying out trade in agriculture produce at ease. Farmers can also seek assistance about e-NAM facility through helpline.
The official further said that normally one commission agent handles at least 10-12 farmers in a mandi. After farmers sell their produce online, these commission agents can arrange logistics for picking up the stock from farmers.
Even though agriculture is a state subject, the central government has taken proactive steps and informed mandi officials informally about the need to monitor the situation at mandis and discourage traders taking advantage of the situation.
Mandi officials have been asked to set up a control room to monitor prices of key commodities and maintain high level of hygiene at market yards, and even use thermal scanners to check visiting farmers/traders.
They have also been asked to use loudspeakers to create awareness among farmers at mandis about using e-NAM platform and maintaining personal hygiene amid COVID-19 outbreak, the official added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)