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How E- Mandi or Digital Mandi can Transform the Lives of Indian Farmers

Agriculture is the backbone of Indian Economy hence, development of this sector is very essential. With the introduction of Modern equipment, Artificial Intelligence and Digital mandis, a lot of development has already taken place. But, the sad part is that farmers aren’t aware of its benefits.

Shivam Dwivedi
Digital Mandi
Digital Mandi

Agriculture is the backbone of Indian Economy hence, development of this sector is very essential. With the introduction of Modern equipment, Artificial Intelligence and Digital mandis, a lot of development has already taken place. But, the sad part is that farmers aren’t aware of its benefits.

Today we will talk about how digital mandis can play a great role in improving the lives of farmers. 

Problems associated with Traditional Marketplaces:  

  • Right now, Indian infrastructure rotates around producers travelling to their nearest market point i.e., their local agriculture markets which comes under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC). 

  • The main problem of farmers with APMC system is that their journey starts with a long commute lugging along perishable items, resulting in certain wastage of the crop. Upon their arrival at the local mandi, farmers, initiate their primary sale, offering their products for sorting, grading and packaging, so there's good faith in the agents upon whom they depend so heavily on. 

  • This is the most inefficient system consisting of a complex network of local agents, retailers and wholesalers who participates in the process of settling upon prices and making offers. The farmers are forced to trust the words of the middleman, is pressured into selling his agri-produce at much lower price. This is injustice to them. 

  • Such Mandi creates little monopolies with agents stockpiling storages to hold complete control over prices, knowing that the primary producers have nowhere else to turn, nor any point of reference for a fair price. These markets operate in quite an autonomous way, which not only permits corruption but also staggers the movement of goods. 

Importance of Digital or E Mandi: 

In light of COVID- 19 pandemic, shortcomings of traditional mandis have been unveiled. That's why the need for an equitable pan-India infrastructure has become obvious. Digitalized marketplaces can be a gateway to new trading opportunities for farmers. Digital Latest technological innovations, as always, seem to be the best solution to modern-day problems. A push for efficient digital mandis could surely revolutionize this sector: 

  • E- Mandis or Digital mandis provides a comparatively simpler national, warehouse-based trading module which puts the power back in the farmer’s hands. A farmer can upload the details of their products to a digital portal, which can be accessed by interested buyers across the country.  

  • This B2C mode help farmers by facilitating real-time displays of market prices and provides seamless and secured online payments, thereby maintaining his bargaining power. It empowers farmers to directly connect with distantly located processors, wholesalers, large retailers, exporters, etc. 

  • Digital Mandi is a path-breaking concept that is proving to be a giant leap in the reformation of agri-sector. Digital Mandis has brought a new outlook to how post-harvest management practices can be carried out as it is making the agricultural sales process more transparent and ensuring decent remuneration for farmers’ efforts. 

  • Digital Mandis can give access to trade beyond Mandis or state borders. They can make sure increased direct consumer-access for farmers and can also help in getting better prices for their agri-products. With no geographical limitations, farmers can see a significant expansion in their consumer base. 

  • With electronic payment processes, E- Mandis can ensure that the trading operations go on smoothly without any hassles. They can play crucial role in pulling farmers out from the clutches of cash crunches or payment delays. 

  • Apart from this, with bringing much-needed transparency to the sector, digital mandis provide the exciting prospect of quickening the farm-to-fork journey while promoting fair trade and price discovery based mainly upon real-time supply and demand and produce quality.  

Current Situation of E-Mandis:  

However, e-mandis come with their own set of difficulties, for example, mobilizing a population of professionals who may not be tech-savvy. First step towards aggregating farmers on such a large platform is 'Education' in their regional languages, a basic need for the improvement of their self-sufficiency. Moreover, the kinds of logistical factors of storage and transportation while maintaining sustainability and proper social distancing, need to be worked out. 

What needs to be done? 

Below are some suggestions which could prove beneficial for the improvements of Mandi infrastructures: 

1. Quantitatively Improving Mandi Infrastructure:  

  • At this point of agricultural marketing in India, there is an urgent need to increase the density of mandis, expansion of investment in the infrastructure of Mandis and a spread of the MSP system to more regions and crops. 

  • To make this reality, much of the mandi taxes should be properly re-invested by APMCs to improve market infrastructure. 

  • In this regard, the example of Punjab Mandi Board is worth mentioning, whereby it uses these revenues to build rural roads, run medical and veterinary dispensaries, supply drinking water, improve sanitation, expand rural electrification and provide relief to farmers during natural calamities. 

2. Qualitatively Improving Mandi Infrastructure:  

  • We don't just need more mandis, but also needs better quality mandis as quality can play a major role in transforming agri-sector. 

  • There's a need of internal reforms to ease the entry of new players, reduce trader collusion and link them up with national e-trading platforms.  With the introduction of a unified national license for traders and a single point levy of market fees are also steps in this right direction. 

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