coronavirus: Covid-19: Centre intervenes to resume mandis across the country

NEW DELHI: The centre has intervened to resume mandi operations across the country ensuring uninterrupted supply of fruits and vegetables. All major mandis including Lasalgaon, Latur, Vashi, Nashik and Azadpur are functional.

“More than 1500 mandis have started functioning. A week ago, only 200 were functional. We have created a 24X 7 war room to ensure smooth transportation and trading of commodities in the mandis. On normal days 2200-2300 mandis used to function before the lockdown,” agriculture ministry joint secretary Prashant Swain told ET

He said that the union agriculture ministry has been in continuous talks with panchayats, mandi boards and traders to find a way to operate mandis in testing circumstances. The government has devised sanitary protocols which have to be mandatorily followed by visiting people.

“There will be limited access through selected gates having temperature scanners. Use of mask and hand sanitisation have been made compulsory and mandis are regularly disinfected by proper spray,” he said.

He said that farmers have been asked to maintain social distance while trading in the mandis.

“The premises have been dotted with circles at regular distance in which farmers have to line up. We are promoting business along with safety,” he said.

The government has also advised mandis and panchayats to fix zone wise trading. It has created communication groups with farmers, traders and mandi officials to track of commodities.

“The mandi should divide its jurisdiction into various zones. Then it can let farmers trade zone wise to control overcrowding. This will also help in easy movement of food commodities in mandi and from there to markets,” he said.

The government is keeping a tight watch on supply chain and also on the price.

“There is no shortage of any food item in the country. We also have a good horticulture produce this year. We will regulate the market with support of states and soon mandis will come back on track,” he said.

Apart from that, the government is also pushing through with more trading through its electronic market – e-NAM – to encourage contact less and contagion less trade in Mandi.

“Both e-trading and e-payment through virtual e-NAM platform promotes social distancing and promotes safe trading practices,” said another senior agriculture department official.

He said that the centre has asked all the state mandi board heads to permit and encourage farmer producer organisations (FPOs ) at this juncture to fight against Novel Corona Virus and directly allow them to buy from Mandis like traders or even directly buy from farmers for trade purpose.

“The processing industries, exporters, bulk buyers and big retailers may be contacted to facilitate them with Direct Marketing permit and to connect them to FPOs to maintain supply lines, the official said.

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