APMC mandis lose grip on Maharashtra FPCs

Since the three farm laws were passed, FPCs in Maharashtra have seen newer markets opening up that were unavailable till now.

Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) in Maharashtra are increasingly bypassing mandis to enter into deals with private players. Some of them dream of building brands in the vegetable business, while others are looking to tap the international market.

Last week, farmers in Buldhana district of Maharashtra met with a pleasant surprise when they got a bonus from a farmer producer company Jai Sardar FPC for selling their maize to them. Jai Sardar had purchased around 3120 quintals from the farmers in their region and had sold the maize to a private company in Muzzafarpur in Bihar for Rs 45 lakh.

“We decided to share some of the profit with the farmers who had sold their maize to us and distributed a bonus of Rs 10 per quintal to the farmers. The amount is small but is a gesture of appreciation,” Ashish Nafade, founder of the FPC said. “The Centre’s Farm Bills give us more freedom to sell anywhere and we need to keep farmers happy if we want them to be with us,” he added.

Nafade’s company has been among the first FPCs to register and trade on NCDEX and NEML, besides tying up with AgriBazaar for online trading. The FPC is currently dealing in soybean and maize and also getting into cattle feed trade for additional income.

Since the three farm laws were passed, FPCs in Maharashtra have seen newer markets opening up that were unavailable till now. Technically, FPCs or other traders are free to buy directly from farmers, but the APMC had the power to levy cess ranging from 1.05% to 1.5% on the transaction.

Around 12 FPCs in Latur and Osmanabad have supplied over 1,200 tonnes of soybean to private player ADM Agro Industries Private Ltd. Yogesh Thorat, MD, Maha FPC said that the FPC has also registered on electronic platforms like AgriBazar for sale of commodities. His company is also tapping corporates such as ITC and COFCO for business.

Thorat’s company initially used the PSS (Price Support Scheme) model of purchasing at minimum support price to widen its reach among farmers and has now ventured into commercial procurement as well. Maha FPC recently collaborated with Nafed’s arm Federation of Farmer Producer Organisations and Aggregators (FIFA) to set up e-Kisan mandi in Pune. Nafed plans to create 50 to 100 such mandis over the next year across the country bringing farmers, traders and buyers on a common platform.

Manish More, a post graduate in agriculture used his stint with Reliance Fresh and Big Bazaar to get into home delivery of fresh vegetables. During the lockdown, he gathered like-minded friends to form KisanConnect Farmer Producer Company out of Rahata in Ahmedagar district and Junnar in Pune district to sell Rs 5 crore worth vegetables to consumers in Mumbai and Pune. KisanConnect is aiming to build a brand name in vegetables and aims to go pan India in a few months through tie-ups with FPCs in other states.

Interestingly, Maharashtra’s first women FPC Jeevan Sangini Krishi Vikas Women Farmers Producer Company located out of Buldhana district also has plans to brand its pulses under the brand name ‘Jeevan Sangini’ and sell these in a packaged form while the Mann Deshi Mahila FPC based out of Mhaswad in Satara district, facilitated perishables and non-perishables worth Rs 8 crore after the lockdown.

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