BENGALURU: The bustling Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) yard at Yesvantpur has taken a big blow due to the ongoing Covid pandemic and the amendments in the APMC Act nearly a year ago. Out of 1,000 outlets here that were operational, nearly 300 dealing with rice, wheat, and pulses have ceased daily business.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, president, Yesvantpur yard, said business has been extremely dull forcing the closure of nearly 300 businesses. “We have 2,200 license holders here of whom nearly 1,000 were active. At present only around 700 shops are carrying on transactions. The second wave of Covid has impacted traders more than the first one,” he said.
He attributes two major reasons for the huge drop in business in the yard. “The mass free distribution of food grains that could last a few months to help public tide over Covid time as well as the amendment brought about to APMCs under the Farm Laws. It has now levied a 0.6% fee on those operating from APMCs as compared to nil fee on those out of its ambit was also a major reason for the business going elsewhere.
The Karnataka Agricultural Produce Market Committee Ordinance 2020, enacted in July 2020, ended the APMC’s monopoly over market produce. M Ramesh, Honorary Joint Secretary, The Bangalore Grain Merchants Association, and a partner at ‘Sri Ramanatha Traders’ and two other outlets at the yard, said the merchants were waiting for the Covid crisis to subside so that traders can come together and approach the government on the market fee levied on those inside APMCs.
“We are forced to levy 60 paise for every Rs 100 worth of produce brought from us on the retailers as market fee as mandated by the State government. Due to the amendment in the Act, anyone can start a business outside the yard and they need not levy any fee on purchasers. All we ask is a level playing field as this move gives those trading outside the yard a big advantage as they can sell their goods cheaper than us,” he said.
Ramesh also appealed to the State government on behalf of all merchants to include the APMC traders under Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises.