KOCHI: Virtual trade firms operating illegally in Kerala and Tamil Nadu under the cover of the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 are taking cardamom farmers in Kerala for a ride.
The farmers have decided to approach both the central and state governments against such firms claiming to operate under the FPTC Act 2020 currently stayed by the Supreme Court.
The farmers say these digital firms promise payment within three days, as stipulated under the FPTC Act, while procuring their produce but delay payment inordinately citing various reasons.
Spices Board officials, while confirming the existence of illegal virtual firms in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, said they will crack down on such firms.
"We have received information on illegal firms running collection centres in the state. The board will convene a meeting to discuss the issue and initiate steps to safeguard the interests of farmers," said Staney Joseph Pothen, vice-chairman of Spices Board.
Shine Varghese, general secretary of Vandanmedu Cardamom Growers' Association, said these virtual trading firms functioning under the FPTC Act were illegal as the Supreme Court had stayed the Act in January this year.
"Only firms with auctioneer licence from the Spices Board as per the existing Cardamom (Licensing and Marketing) Rules, 1987, can operate. The illegal firms promise to pay farmers within three days as mandated under the FPTC Act. But they delay the payment for months. We had decided to start a digital trading firm under the FPTC Act, but the plan was put on hold after the Supreme Court stayed the Act," he said.
Hemant Kishore, who runs a spices trading company, said farmers should be wary of illegal firms. "The Spices Board should immediately intervene and take action against such firms," he said.
Antony Mathew, a 60-year-old cardamom planter from Vallakkadavu in Idukki, said these companies convince farmers with letters and notices claiming that they operate under the FPTC Act.
"During this period of distress, farmers are looking for avenues to sell their produce and they get duped by these firms easily. In my knowledge, there are at least three big trading firms in Idukki which claim to operate under the FPTC Act," he said.
The Centre brought in the FPTC Act for the benefit of farmers but these illegal firms are misusing it, said V P Rajendran, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh state secretary. "We have decided to take up the matter with the Centre. These illegal firms not only delay payment but also collect an interest of 24 per cent from farmers if they want an early payment for their produce," he said. Delete & Prev | Delete & Next Move to: INBOX