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India launches e-marketplace for aquaculture farmers

An electronic marketplace to provide a platform that connects aquaculture farmers and potential buyers has been inaugurated by the Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. Through the portal, farmers will get better prices on their products. It also allows exporters to purchase directly from farmers, enhancing traceability, which is a key factor in international trade. The portal will act as a bridge between the fishermen and buyers, within the country and abroad.

The portal is called e-SANTA and stands for Electronic Solution for Augmenting NaCSA farmers’ Trade in Aquaculture. NaCSA or the National Centre for Sustainable Aquaculture is an extension under the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

At the virtual launch, Goyal noted that e-SANTA will raise income, independence, quality, and traceability. It will improve standards of living and provide new options for aqua farmers. He said that the platform will “change the traditional way of carrying out business”.

According to a press release, e-SANTA is a “digital bridge” to end the market divide. It will function as an alternative marketing tool by eliminating the middleman. It provides a cashless, contactless, and paperless electronic trade method between farmers and exporters.

The farmers have the freedom to list their produce and quote their prices. Similarly, exporters have the freedom to list their requirements and choose the products based on the desired size, location, and harvest dates. This enables the farmers and buyers to have greater control over the trade, allowing them to make informed decisions. The platform offers detailed specifications of each product listing and is backed by an end-to-end electronic payment system, with NaCSA as an escrow agent.

After the crop listing and online negotiation, a deal is struck, an advance payment is made, and an estimated invoice is generated. Once the harvest date is fixed, the buyer goes to the farm gate and the produce is harvested with them present. When the harvest is completed, a final count is taken, the quantity of material is verified, and a delivery receipt is issued. After the material reaches the processing plant, the final invoice is generated, and the exporter makes the balance payment. This payment is reflected in the escrow account. NaCSA verifies it and accordingly releases the payment to farmers.

In the future, e-SANTA could become an auction platform by enabling the collective advertising of products that the buyers, fishermen, and fish-producing organisations are harvesting. People in India and abroad can know what is available through the website. The platform is available in several languages, making it accessible for the local population.

Goyal also outlined challenges for farmers in traditional aqua farming, including, market monopoly and exploitation. On the other hand, exporters often face inconsistency and quality gaps in the products they purchase. He claimed that e-SANTA has the potential to bring substantive improvements in farmers’ lives and enhance India’s reputation in global trade.

According to Goyal, the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and NaCSA initiatives have the potential to change the map of marketing of aqua products in the country. NaCSA aims to encourage and uplift small and marginal farmers through the organisation of clusters and by maintaining best management practices in aquaculture.

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