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Centre to scale up Karnataka's e-Mandi model to national scale

Economic Times:  July, 2015

Bengaluru: An e-market for farm products in Karnataka has been so successful that the NDA government is setting aside politics and holding up the Congress-ruled state's programme as a model for all others. In fact, the Modi government is going to scale up Karnataka's e-Mandi model to the national level.

Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told ET that he is so happy with the model that he is taking a delegation from 21 states to Hubli in Karnataka to "see, learn and replicate" the Karnataka system in their states. "Karnataka ne bahut achcha kiya hai. Others states are also trying things, but I want them to see the Karnataka model and replicate it all across the country," he said.

Karnataka's Minister of State for Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda said arrangements were being made to demonstrate to the delegation the e-Mandi system, which has generated a revenue of Rs. 8,521 crore in the last 16 months, trading commodities like copra, tur, paddy, ragi, groundnut, til, maize and so on. "The delegation, including ministers from all political parties, is coming on Thursday and Friday. We are very happy that the Union government has taken this project beyond politics and is sharing the benefits of the programme to all states," he said.

Andhra Pradesh's Chandrababu Naidu has already visited Karnataka for a live demonstration, while Odisha and Rajasthan have asked for the e-Mandi platform. The Centre also has big plans to connect farmers and traders from across the country within six months on the National Agriculture Market, an e-platform based on the Karnataka model.

Singh said there was need for uniformity in levies and licenses across the country, so that trading can happen as per a single law and a single marketing policy. "We will give money from the Agritech Infrastructure Fund to the states, they can buy computers, set up e-infrastructure, hire IT engineers and help the farmers and traders get the best prices across the country. Karnataka has done this the best," he said.

Karnataka has connected all its major 55 markets and has set up a web-enabled portal that records all the lots of products available for sale. Each of the state's 30,000 traders have been given a username and password. "A trader sitting in Bengaluru will be able to see the number of bags of tur available in Gulbarga, Raichur or Gadag. Depending on the distance the trader has to transport the product, he bids an amount on the bags available. The farmer sees the highest price he gets and decides who he wants to sell it to," Manoj Rajan, Rashtriya E-Market Services managing director and additional secretary (cooperation), who set up and implemented the e-Mandi project for Karnataka, told ET.

Copra, which was trading atRs. 6,000 per bag last year, is trading at Rs. 13,000 now, while moong dal is trading at 30% more, due to the market, Rajan said.

Besides the online auction route of selling perishable goods, which is similar to the flower auction in The Netherlands, the non-perishable products like tur and paddy go through the e-tender route, where bidders don't know what the others have quoted. The platform also allows bilateral trade and fixed price, like the minimum support price given by the government.