Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, September 17
Demanding the restoration of their commission, as specified in the Agricultural Produce Market Committee ( APMC) Act, commission agents (arhtiyas) have threatened to take on the Centre in the coming elections if the ceiling on their commissions is not removed.
The commission agents, who had gathered here from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, besides Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, say that they now feel threatened as their trade is allegedly being grabbed by multinational agri-logistic companies setting up silos in the region. Since these silos are declared as open market yards, where farmers can directly sell their produce, the commission agents are wary that the 70 new silos to be built in Punjab, 50 in Haryana and 120 in Uttar Pradesh will take away bulk of their businesses.
Representatives of these associations gathered here this morning to chalk out a strategy to deal with this new threat to their business and press the Centre to restore their commission at 2.5 per cent of the MSP on the crop. In 2020, the Centre had capped the commision at Rs 46 per quintal of grains procured.
“Considering the amount of work we do in foodgrain procurement and in accordance with the APMC Act, our commission at 2.5 per cent should be Rs 52.50 per quintal. If our right to earn our livelihood is denied to us, we will have to resort to opposing the BJP politically,” said Babu Lal Gupta, a commission agent from Rajasthan and national president of their confederation of associations. The final course of action would be decided on September 28, he added.
The commission agents gathered here also rued that slowly the Central Government was taking away many crops from their purview. “Cotton, pulses and oilseeds are no longer procured through arhtiyas. We have not only lost out on business there, but the capping of the commission is also hurting us financially. After we realised that the government’s intention is only to promote silos, we also approached the authorities with a request that our association in each mandi can build silos. However, the financial terms kept for anyone who builds silo storages under the FCI scheme, cannot he met by anyone other than MNCs. Anyone expressing interest in building and operating silos should have financial worth of Rs 1,000 crore,” said Ravinder Cheema, president of the Arhtiya Association, Punjab.
The commission agents also rued that the Centre was not willing to increase their commission. “After including the cost of handling, packing and transportation, procuring grains through the commission agents costs the government anything between Rs 70-80 per quintal, while it costs them Rs 144 per quintal if the grains are procured at silos and stored there,” said Ashok Gupta, a commission agent from Haryana.
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