Covid-19: What’s The Status At APMCs During The Lockdown
BloombergQuint spoke to several stakeholders across states to check how APMCs are coping with the lockdown.
Less than an hour after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24 to counter the spread of Covid-19, people rushed to nearest grocery stores to stock up on essentials.
The panic buying was triggered by fears that supply chains will get disrupted during the lockdown. While the central government as well as states assured that essential supplies won’t be affected, movement of labourers was restricted, trucks came to a halt and vendors faced shortages on the first two days. There were reports of the police harassing and even beating up delivery staff, vendors and workers.
BloombergQuint spoke with traders and office-bearers at five Agricultural Produce Market Committees. Here’s the situation at the bulk supply markets during the nationwide lockdown:
The APMC’s market in Vashi was shut between Saturday and Wednesday, said Mohan Gurnani, chairman of Chamber of Associations of Maharashtra Industry and Trade.
“From Thursday, the vegetable market (including onion and potatoes) is fully operational whereas the grain market is partially operational. We aren’t facing any supply chain disruptions. Things are limping back to normalcy,” Gurnani said, adding that they have a surplus of produce.
He, however, said the traders were facing shortage of labourers, most of whom have left for their villages. “But we’re hoping that things will normalise in next two-three days,” he said. “I want to reiterate there’s no need to panic and people should stop hoarding stuff. We have enough supplies for the Mumbai region.”
The local APMC market was shut for the past three days and will reopen on Friday, said Walchand Sancheti, president of Federation of Trader Associations (Maharashtra).
“The market will operate for a shorter duration—from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (it usually shuts by 7 p.m.). Our committee will take a decision on how to maintain the discipline in the market and to follow the guidelines of social distancing,” Sancheti said, adding that he expects things to normalise in two to three days.
“As of now, there’s no shortfall in essential commodities but we request the government not to stop trucks from outside the state at the border as that might lead to shortages,” he said. “Some of our vendors and suppliers are getting harassed by the police for stepping out during the lockdown. To address this, we’re planning to provide them with ID cards. We won’t allow the prices to rise.”
A senior Maharashtra government official said on the condition of anonymity that all the APMC markets in the state are now open for essential supplies like fruits, vegetables and grains.
For past two-three days there was a bit of a disruption as most of the labourers and vendors had left for their villages, the official said, adding they’re hopeful that normalcy would return. The official also said traders’ associations and authorities are now taking steps to ensure the safety of people.
All the local authorities are actively working with traders to ensure that supply chains aren’t disrupted, the official said.
Most of the APMC markets in Karnataka have been shut for the past week or so, Mohammed Umar, a trader and member of the APMC market in Kalaburagi, said.
“Only vegetable and fruit trade is allowed in the markets between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. in Kalaburagi,” Umar said, adding that the market is being run under police supervision to prevent overcrowding.
“There’s a slight shortage in supply as farmers are scared to venture out of their homes due to the lockdown,” he said. “I think this will continue till the 21 days lockdown period is over.”
Shaileshbhai Kothari, committee member of Nava Madhupura Vepari Mahajan—a traders’ outfit—said all APMC markets in the western state were shut since Sunday.
“Members of the association had a meeting with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and other senior government officials,” Kothari said, adding it was decided that the Ahmedabad APMC markets would function from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. under police supervision from Friday.
“This will help in addressing the shortages. The government also said that they will make sure that there will be no issues over transportation of essential commodities and attention will also be paid to the safety of vendors and labourers,” Kothari said.
APMC markets in this Andhra Pradesh town—which supplies red chillies to all parts of India—were shut for the past four days, with only the supply of essential commodities proceeding unhindered, said Ashok Kumar, committee member of Chillies Merchants’ Exports Association (Andhra Pradesh).
“The district collector has asked traders to supply if there’s a demand by enforcing safety guidelines,” Kumar said, adding that a shortage of labourers has affected operations.
There’s no shortage of supply of essentials as the government is organising mandis (markets) across the state at a specific time in the day where people can come and purchase the essentials, he said. “Arrangements are also being made to maintain social distancing.”