The raging controversy regarding the new farm laws and the country-wide protest of farmers have once again brought to focus the crucial role played by agricultural markets in economic development. States like Punjab, Haryana and Maharashtra have well developed marketing systems which have contributed to their prosperity. Other states have lagged and continued with the traditional systems. Reforms have taken a back seat.
History of Agriculture Market Reform
- The Royal Commission on Agriculture in 1928 noted the need to regulate agricultural markets.
- The Madras Commercial Crops Act 1933 (which was then applicable to areas of present day Odisha) laid down certain restrictions.
- The Constitution of India (1950) prescribed that “Agriculture”, “markets and fairs” and “trade and commerce within the state” are all State subjects (Entry 14, 26, 28, List II, Seventh Schedule).
- Agricultural markets have therefore been the responsibility of the states. In fact, Odisha was one of the first states to notify Orissa Agricultural Produce Markets Act.
- Its main objective was to assure the agricultural producer “of his legitimate share of the price paid by the consumers” and to regulate unfair trade practices.
- Similar laws were enacted in other states. But regrettably, the stated objectives of the legislations remain unfulfilled.
- The Central government circulated a new Act in 2003. Model APMC Rules were also framed in 2007 and states were asked to adopt them. Reportedly 11 states adopted them fully and seven states partially.
But there has been no significant improvement at ground level and in most cases, it remains business as usual.
Agricultural Market in Odisha
- Odisha has 66 Regulated Market Committees (RMCs) with 180 subyards. A number of markets remain under the control of local bodies.
- The state has 76 municipal markets and approximately 2000 gram panchayat markets (out of which about 250 are managed by RMCs).
- The Government of Odisha also tried some piecemeal reforms. In an attempt at disintermediation, it set up 43 Krushak Bazaars where farmers can sell their produce directly to buyers.
- It has also set up 14 Special Commodity Markets.
Source: Agricultural markets in Odisha article published in Orissa Post by Gokul Patnaik (Retd. IAS)