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Tomato market in Maharashtra keeps commission agents at bay

The farmer does not pay the commission agents nor the porters here. He decides the price of his produce and sells it directly to the trader.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Nov 03, 2011, 02.09 AM IST|Original: Nov 03, 2011, 02.05 AM IST
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PUNE: The farmer does not pay the commission agents nor the porters here. He decides the price of his produce and sells it directly to the trader. The open auction market for tomatoes in Narayangaon on the Pune-Nashik highway is something that every farmer wishes exists in his village.

In any market where agricultural produce is sold through commission agents, the farmer does not know the price at which a deal happens between the agent and the trader. He has to believe what the agent tells him and be happy with whatever pittance he gets paid a month later. But at the Narayangaon market, the trader or his representative comes to the farmer and quotes a price. No middlemen involved and the deal is struck. The farmer gets his money right on the spot.

"We are now saving 30% just because of doing away with the commission agents and other market-related expenses," said Prakash Wagh, a tomato farmer from village Pimpalvandi near Narayangaon who is growing the vegetable for the past 30 years.

Today, farm income has more than doubled in the region while the Junnar APMC, under which the open auction market functions as a sub-market, has succeeded in increasing its income five times in four years. "Our turnover has increased from Rs 67 lakh four years ago to Rs 3.75 crore this year," said its secretary Balasaheb Mhaskare.

The market did not come into existence as a reform measure by the government. A group of younger farmers, called the Shivneri group of agricultural graduates, literally forced the government to allow the market come into existence.

"The turnover of the tomato market has increased from Rs 3 crore in 2004 to more than Rs 100 crore last year," said Sriram Gadhave, president of the Shivneri group and the national president of the All India Vegetable Growers' Association. Gadhave took the initiative of developing the market and is making sure that it survives in the midst of middlemen-controlled markets.

Due to its specific climatic conditions, Narayangaon supplies more than 60% of tomatoes consumed in the country during the four months of the rainy season.

There is a strong demand from farmers to extend the open auction system to other crops. The Junnar APMC has started such a market on a pilot basis for bananas at Otur near Junnar.
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