The Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP Government in Punjab has now given an option to the state farmers to directly sell their crops to the procurement agencies, thus eliminating the role of the ‘artiyas’ (commission agents).
Sources said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had recently cleared the file for amending the Punjab Mandi Board Act which will enable the farmers to sell their produce to the government agencies directly or through commission agents.
Until now the farmers could only sell their crop to the agents, who then sold it to the state run procuring agencies like Food Corporation of India, Cotton Corporation of India and state government agencies. The farmers who sell their produce directly to the agencies can now save two and half per cent commission.
Last year the agents earned a whooping Rs 908 crore as commission from the government procurement agencies and another Rs 260 crore for cleaning the crop and getting it dried. The agents earned Rs 419 crore as commission from the sale of wheat crop and Rs 489 crore from the sale of paddy.
Up to 90 per cent of agricultural produce arriving in the mandis (regulated markets) in the state is procured by the Central and state government agencies. However, these agencies credit the payments for the produce to the commission agents. The agents deduct 2.5 per cent commission from the price fetched by the farmers and make the payments to them from their account. It is estimated that some 48,000 agents operate in the state.