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E-name gives a new face to the vegetable market in Solan

UNTIL A year ago, Farmers would take their sacks and crates of peas, tomatoes, capsicum, beans, cauliflower and ginger to the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Solan Mandi, 46 km south of Shimla, and watch as commission agents, or arthiyas, called for bids and sealed them.

farmers are not happy with the prices they got and they knew the agents made underhand deals with buyers but could do little about it. That’s how these mandis have always operated. The agents charge a commission of 4 per cent from us and another 7 per cent from buyers.

That changed, however, when the markets of Solan and Shimla became part of the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) project, a flagship pan-India electronic trading portal for agricultural produce launched by the central government in April 2016.

Today, Farmers can log in to the e-NAM website, access real-time wholesale rates across the country and choose their buyer, completely bypassing the agents.

Within a year of the e-NAM launch, APMC Solan has transacted business worth Rs 4.09 crore, of which Rs 3.12 crore were from apples. APMC Solan has already enrolled 4,267 farmers, 92 commission agents and 423 traders under the e-trading project.

Every morning, farmers or their representatives turn up at the entry point of the mandi with their produce, after which APMC officials examine samples for quality and grade, and weigh them in the presence of farmers. The farmers, who are registered on the e-NAM portal, then log into the website using their unique ID numbers and list the items they want to sell, with descriptions about quality and quantity.

The action moves to the “bidding hall”, on the first floor of the market yard, where APMC officials sit with their laptops around a table, facing farmers and commission agents, who now act on behalf of buyers. With a supervisor overseeing the bidding, farmers watch the giant screen on the wall, which displays the item being bid by local traders and those from other states.

After the process is done, the farmer picks a suitable bid, the transaction is frozen and the grower issued a printed e-sale agreement. It’s up to the agents to ensure that the produce reaches buyers — the APMC charges a transaction fee of one per cent from buyers.

The earnings of farmers have gone up by 60 to 70 per cent since the new system came in.

Thakur one of the farmer in solan says, "It’s easy. This way, we get to sell our produce at the click of a button, From the Rs 3.5-4 lakh that I used to earn earlier, I now make around Rs 7 lakh. This system is absolutely transparent and free from hera-pheri (manipulation). Receipts of the produce sold are credited to our bank accounts by the end of the day."