Karnataka: Traders of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) in Karnataka are set to launch an indefinite protest from July 27, demanding the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government to reduce the market cess to 0.2% from the present one percent across all APMC markets in the state. On the other hand, farmers and workers are holding protests at markets, demanding that the government repeals a recent ordinance which amended the APMC Act.
On May 14, Karnataka’s ministers, led by Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa cleared an ordinance amending the APMC act. The move is in accordance with the Centre’s Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017 and the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020. The changes in the APMC Act permits private players to open markets alongside APMC markets.
After the ordinance was cleared, traders united in demanding that the government abolishes the cess paid by traders at APMC markets. Subsequently, on July 9, the state government reduced the cess to one percent from 1.5%.
After a series of meetings at APMCs, traders are now demanding a reduction of cess to 0.2%. If the cess is not reduced, they will shut shops for an indefinite period, said Ramesh Chandra Lahoti, Chairman of the APMC Committee. “We have told the government that there is a need to create a level playing field. It would be sufficient for the government to maintain its market yards even at 0.20% fee,” Lahoti said in a press statement.
“We want the same law to be applied for the transactions done inside and outside the yard. We don’t want any of the permits including 35A and 35 B to be applied only for APMC merchants,” President of APMC Action Committee, Shankranna Munavalli, was quoted as saying.
Opposition to APMC At
“The traders are only concerned about the cess they need to pay, but farmers and headload workers at APMC markets have been protesting against the new changes in APMC Act that allows the entry of corporates into agriculture marketing,” said K. Mahantesh, President of Karnataka State Hamali Workers Federation. He added that the hamali workers will support the traders agitation.
Mahantesh said that the workers in the state, led by various trade unions, are organising a massive protest across the state on August 10, against the state and central government’s anti- workers’ policies.
Demanding a repeal of the amendments to the APMC Act, hundreds of hamali workers protested at the country’s largest APMC market in Yesvantpur on June 30.
Despite the lockdown restrictions, farmers’ organisations across districts have held protest demonstrations opposing the ordinance over the past few months, and have said they will intensify the movement against the corporatisation of agriculture.