Government urged to set up a co-op. online agri marketing platform

Some leaders are worried about the State imposing restrictions without spelling out measures to protect farmers.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

As the State has imposed restrictions following the second wave of COVID-19, there is a sense of anxiety in the farm sector though the government has made it clear there will be no curbs on movement of farm produce.

Restrictions during the first wave had demonstrated the difficulties involved in getting a market for farm produce at the right time under similar circumstances.

T.N. Prakash Kammaradi, agricultural economist and former chairman of Karnataka Agricultural Price Commission (KAPC), has suggested to the government to come out with a cooperative online agri marketing platform to help farmers sell their produce without hassle. “It is difficult for an individual farmer to sell his entire produce through online mode as logistics would be an issue. If the government steps in and helps in linking farmers’ groups such as farmers producers’ organisations with bulk buyers such as big apartments through a cooperative online marketing platform, it will be a win-win situation for both farmers and consumers,” he said.

He has suggested that the government rope in residents’ welfare associations of apartments in big cities such as Bengaluru and convince them to provide space for selling farm produce. This will prevent apartment dwellers from scouting for fresh produce outside during the pandemic while farmers would get a direct market. “Health and food occupy the centre stage during COVID times. It is a criminal offence to allow food to go to waste. But our survey has shown that about 28% of the farmers who were surveyed could not sell their produce in the first phase of COVID-19 from May to September last year,” he said. Of this, about 17% of the farmers could not get market access, while 11% lost their produce as it was rotten. Only around 30% were able to sell their produce properly in main markets, while another 43% managed to sell in small markets.

Mr. Kammaradi has also advocated for the revival of Minimum Support Price (MSP) as per the recommendation of the M.S. Swaminathan report to ensure that farmers get 50% of the margin over the comprehensive cost of cultivation. He argued that it should be made a punishable offence to buy produce below MSP by granting legal status to MSP.

‘Convene meeting’

Farmers’ leaders are concerned about the State imposing restrictions without even spelling out measures to protect the interests of farmers.

Karnataka Sugarcane Growers’ Association president Kurubur Shanthakumar has urged the government to immediately convene a meeting of farmers’ representatives and other authorities to discuss the measures to be taken to protect farmers during COVID-19 times. “We are not against imposing tough measures to contain the spread of the infection. But our only request is that the government should initiate steps to protect the interests of farmers,” he said.

According to him, already the demand for farm produce has started diminishing in the market. “Earlier, about 350 truckloads of vegetables used to be transported from Mysuru to Kerala on a daily basis. But now it has come down to 50 trucks,” he said. He demanded that efforts be made to not only provide market, but also ensure remunerative prices for farmers.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2021 7:54:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/government-urged-to-set-up-a-co-op-online-agri-marketing-platform/article34404601.ece

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