By admin       2017-01-09

MUMBAI:Following large-scale irregularities and graft in agriculture produce market committees (APMC), the BJP-led government in the state has proposed to give farmers voting rights to elect the committee members.The committees take decisions on prices and issues faced by the farmers who sell their produce to licensed traders at the marketing yards. However, the electorate comprises only traders and members of gram panchayats, local development societies and cooperative societies, which are run by local politicians. As a result, these market committees are run by local politicians, traders and 'agriculturists', with no farmers' representatives on board.The traders and politicians who run the committees control the market and decide the prices of produce to their own benefit. There are 305 APMCs in the state with an annual turnover of over Rs 30,000 crore.These committees were formed for the benefit of farmers so that their produce can be marketed well and better prices can be fetched. However, over the years the main goal has been forgotten and they are working for personal profits," a senior official said. Experts say this move may help in keeping prices under check. He also said that by giving farmers voting rights, the BJP wants to wrest control of these markets from the NCP-Congress which control most of these committees. Each APMC has 300-400 voters and can have a maximum of 21 members, who are elected every five years."Farmers will be able to be a part of the administration of the committees and have a greater say in running the APMCs, which were formulated for their benefit," another official said.The government is yet to finalise how many farmers will get voting rights at each APMC. They are considering giving voting rights to farmers who sell the most amount of produce at the APMC.Minister of cooperation, marketing and textile Subhash Deshmukh said the government is working on the proposal and a bill to amend the APMC Act will be tabled in the budget session of legislature in March. Farmers and activists have welcomed the decision as it gives farmers more choice to decide on who they want to have on the committee. The state government had last year delisted fruits and vegetables from sale in the APMC markets and allowed farmers to sell them in open market.

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