BENGALURU: Traders in south India’s biggest regulated agricultural market — Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Yeshwanthpur — are reeling under the impact of the demonetisation move. Business has slumped by 60% with traders warning of dire consequences to the country’s economy if this continues.
This market’s impact on business is so striking that the Union Home Ministry even dispatched a representative on Thursday to hold closed-door discussions with traders. Top representatives of the 1,980 wholesale traders at the market have requested the Centre to increase the individual daily withdrawal limit from banks for current account holders from Rs 24,000 to Rs 2 lakh per day.
“Spread over 93 acres, the APMC is not only the biggest in terms of trade volume but also the largest in south India in terms of area,” says Bharat Shah, consultant to food grains and pulses merchants in the city.
With 11 entry gates leading to the yard, it is a bustling market with tempos, small and big trucks zooming in and out all day and night. The average daily turnover was a whopping Rs 50 crore till November 8.
Onions, potatoes, pulses, grains, sugar, jaggery, dry fruits — almost everything is available in this wholesale market.
“We cater to food requirements of 2.5 crore people across the state, including the one crore-plus population of Bengaluru and a large population in Hoskote, Dobbspet, Tumakuru, Magadi, Chintamani, Kolar and Ramanagara,” said Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, president of the Bangalore Wholesale Foodgrains & Pulses Merchants Association.
Daily turnover takes a hit
As one enters the gates of the market, bags of onion and potatoes are seen strewn around the yard or being auctioned off. The yard receives an average of 1 lakh bags of onion and 50,000 bags of potato daily. Groups of men are found standing in different spots in the yard, auctioning these items after the trucks arrive with the produce.
“From a daily turnover of Rs 50 crore, we now have a daily turnover of Rs 18 crore to Rs 20 crore due to the massive cash crunch all around. After the demonetisation move on November 8, our total turnover for the next three days hovered around Rs 5 crore only,” said Lahoti. “Business has been improving but we are still losing 60 per cent of our business and the Centre has to do something urgently. We requested their representative Anil Kumar, during our meeting on Thursday, to increase the withdrawal limit for current accounts to atleast Rs 2 lakh per day,” he added.
Traders around his shop concede that the wholesale business sees 90 per cent cash transactions. Representatives of farmers have been camping at the market for a day or two to collect due payment in new currency notes.
“They will not accept old Rs 500 or Rs 1,000 notes or cheque payments,” a trader said. He adds that almost every trader here lost at least Rs 2 to Rs 3 lakh by accepting cheque payments which later bounced. Business is no more done on trust, he added.
Speaking of his outlet, Sunil & Co, located in MG Building in the yard, Lahoti said, “I have been giving credit only to longstanding customers, whom I trust. I am losing the rest of my business.”