Punjab is not keen on being a part of the e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) platform, an online system launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday connecting mandis across the state for sale of agricultural produce.
At the start of the scheme, 21 mandis in eight states have been connected, but Punjab, the main grain-producing state, so far has not thought about it despite a communique from the union agriculture ministry seeking its participation.
The neighbouring Haryana that has a similar cropping pattern has accepted the scheme connecting mandis in Karnal and Ellenabad to the portal.
In the long run, e-NAM entails linking of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) in the country. The APMCs control mandis in the state. Punjab has 151 APMCs of which the majority has a seasonal business during wheat and paddy harvests.
A formal discussion on the issue is expected to take place in a meeting chaired by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today, but according to state agriculture minister Tota Singh, ''Punjab has nothing to do with it.''
The eight states that have opted for the scheme so far are Gujarat, Telangana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Of these states, so far only 21 mandis have been connected to the newly launched portal for sale of agricultural produce. Besides, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Chandigarh have agreed to be part of this and offered to connect 344 mandis to the portal.
Punjab Mandi Board vice-chairman Ravinder Singh Cheema told The Hindustan Times that wheat and paddy comprised 95 per cent of the crops grown in the state, which are covered under the minimum support price, so the scheme did not suit Punjab.
The board maintains 1,800 mandis in the state and monitors procurement of wheat and paddy in rabi and kharif crops respectively. Cheema said the state farmers would not benefit from the scheme and in case the government wanted to help farmers all mandis in the country should be connected to the portal, which would entail a huge expenditure.
He said, ''There is not much enthusiasm for the scheme as only 21 mandis have been hooked to the portal, with each state offering to connect only two to three mandis.''
According to Tota Singh, the portal will be useful to the state only if it grows commercially viable crops such as vegetables and fruits. ''Why would a farmer whose produce is procured by government agencies try to sell it online?'' he asked.