Passage of 3 bills in Parliament on farm produce marketing has hardly caused a ripple in Telangana
Farmers in Telangana are unlikely to join the nationwide strike called by All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements on September 25. Farmers across the country are protesting the passage of three bills in Parliament that seek to reorganise marketing of farm produce. However, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee is planning to stage a protest near Aayakar Bhavan in Basheerbagh area at 11.30 a.m. on Friday.
“I sell my sona masoori rice directly to customers. When I grow marigold flowers in winter, I sell them at the Gudimalkapur market where I have to pay 10% margin to the seth (trader),” says Srinivas Reddy, a farmer. “The market yard has a very limited use to us. Only farmers who borrow from traders and sell the produce through them will be affected,” says Mr. Reddy. While the commission to be paid at the market is fixed at 4%, multiple farmers said they had to pay 10% commission in addition to transporting the produce and scouting for buyers.
The nearest market yards from Pudur are Vikarabad and Chevella. Food Corporation of India procurement and production data over the past five years (2015-2020) shows that nearly a quarter of farmers in Telangana did not access the marketplace for the MSP fixed by the central government. While rice procurement by FCI averaged between 95% to 79% in Punjab, it averaged between 77% and 51.8% in Telangana. Nationally, FCI procured between 37.5% and 32.7% of the rice produced in five years. “We prefer to sell it directly to retailers. Rice mills procure from farmers and give an incentive per vehicle,” says Kadavati Ramcharan who takes land on cowl (lease) and cultivates rice, vegetables and flowers in Pudur. While protests broke out in many parts of the country after the passage of the three bills, it has hardly caused a ripple among the farmer community in Telangana. Farmers who produce fruits and other perishables are however worried how the changes in the marketplace will impact them. “No business is possible without dalals (middlemen). Some farmers have contracts with corporates but they buy only the A-Grade produce. What about the rest? How do we sell that?” asks Prabhakar Reddy who cultivates carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables on three-acres.
Among the new players in the market is an agri-tech startup which says is ‘revolutionising fresh produce supply chain’. It has a procurement centre near Ibrahimpalle on Chevella-Vikarabad Rd. “A day before the procurement our field officer visits the farm and informs the farmer about the quantity we need. We check quality while procuring and send the produce to our Kompally warehouse,” says Raju who manages the centre.
The market yards are controlled by ruling party leaders. The first change in state government inevitably leads to change in the power structure of the market committee. “The ruling party nominates the chairperson who ensures fair trade,” says Madhav Reddy who works at the Chevella market yard.