Karnataka is getting ready to implement a new system — instantaneous market intervention scheme — under which farmers’ produce is procured by a government agency as soon as prices crash below the level of minimum support prices (MSP). This is to replace the present system which takes months.

This system, which is said to be the first such initiative in the country, facilitates commencement of procurement within a day of a price crash, said Karnataka Agriculture Prices Commission (KAPC) Chairman T.N. Prakash Kammaradi, whose organisation is playing a key role in the initiative.

“The present system takes long as it involves various levels of decision-making. First, the district-level task forces, headed by deputy commissioners will have to analyse the situation, and recommend procurement of a particular produce. Then the issue has to be decided by a Cabinet subcommittee, and later the matter has to be taken up with the Centre, which has to grant permission,” he said. This comes in the way of reaching the benefits of MSP to farmers as they cannot wait for such a long time to sell their produce.

The focal point for the new system is an innovative method — collecting information of arrivals and prices of various agriculture and horticultural crops on a daily basis from all the 162 major Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yards.

A software developed by the KAPC, through a Bengaluru-based firm Anvita, also provides forecasting of prices and market trends for the next three months and consolidated data on arrivals over a specific period.

“We get information on almost all the crops. But, we focus on 29 major crops which account for 89% of total crop area in the State,” Dr. Kammaradi said. Titled KRIPA (‘Krushi Maarukatte Dhaarane Vishleshana Phalaka’ or Farm Produce Price Analysis Dashboard), it will later be made available to all the farm universities and agriculture and allied departments. Dr. Kammaradi hoped that it would be possible to operate the new system from the next kharif season in 2019.

The idea is to use this dashboard under the Centre’s Market Assurance Scheme, which negates the need for taking permission from various authorities. Under this Central scheme, the State can procure the produce in case of price crash by paying minimum support price and the Centre would bear 40% of the cost, he said.

Dr. Kammaradi said he would take up the issue with the Karnataka Agriculture Secretariat as implementation of the new system may require a separate secretariat itself. Major software firms, Microsoft and IBM, have also been roped in to improve the system, he said.

Challenges

However, the challenge for price forecasting is the limitation of data as only 36% of the total quantum of all the crops grown in the State are being transacted through APMCs. “In fact, the government could earn an additional Rs. 500 crore in the form of cess if the entire quantum of produce is traded through APMCs,” he said.

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