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Progress in India’s online agri-trading portal

The Government’s eNAM (National Agriculture Market) platform has facilitated its first inter-state trade, bringing India closer to having a unified market for agricultural commodities.

The eNAM portal is an online platform to buy and sell farm produce in the country. The e-market facilitates farmers, traders, and buyers. It helps with better price discovery and facilitates the smooth marketing of produce, outside of physical, regulated markets (mandis).

It has taken almost three years to break state barriers, which was the Government’s initial objective when the site was launched in April 2016.

Thus, this inter-state trade is an important milestone in eNAM history.

The platform started out with 21 regulated markets across eight states with the pilot trading of 24 commodities. Now, the eNAM portal hosts 585 regulated markets, including markets in 16 states and two union territories that trade 124 different commodities.

The eNAM platform promotes better marketing opportunities for farmers to sell their produce through a competitive and transparent price discovery system. It uses an online payment facility.

The platform has recorded around 22.9 million sales, the total value of which is over IN ₹60,000 crores (approximately US $8.4 billion).

India ranks second in the world in farm output, just after China. However, even though over 55% of its population is dependent on farming, agriculture and related sectors account for only 17.9% of the country’s GDP.

So, to further progress, the Government plans to link all 7,500 agricultural produce market committees (APMCs), along with weekly and bi-weekly temporary markets across the country to the eNAM by the fiscal year 2022.

It is also implementing several programmes to develop the agriculture ecosystem.

The Government is tackling issues like lowering the cost of production, reducing wastage, and ensuring remunerative prices and alternative sources of income for farmers.

According to a report, there are currently 1,090 agritech start-ups registered in the country, out of which 160 start-ups are funded and 122 have shut down. Expanding the reach of the eNAM could potentially bridge the gap between demand and supply in agritech.

Currently, agritech start-ups use technology in two areas, pre-harvest and post-harvest.

Pre-harvest technology (related to farm inputs) includes farm mechanisation, soil testing, and satellite imagery analysis, etc.

Post-harvest technology is related to supply chains, quality of assessment, and the grading of produce. Digitising the agri-supply chain such as B2C and B2B marketplaces for farm produce will reduce wastage, bring in price transparency, and help to improve farmer income.

As a result of chain supply inefficiencies, nearly US $14 billion worth of food produce is wasted in India. On average in a developed country, farmers take home up to 70% of what the consumers pay, but Indian farmers get only about 30%.

The Government aims to double the average farmers’ income by 2022. To boost entrepreneurship in agriculture, it introduced the AGRI-UDAAN programme to mentor start-ups and enable them to connect with potential investors.

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