Agricultural Marketing in India

India is an agricultural country and one third population depends on the agricultural sector directly or indirectly. Agriculture remains as the main stray of the Indian economy since times immemorial. Indian agriculture contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP) is about 25 per cent. With food being the crowning need of mankind, much emphasis has been on commercializing agricultural production. For this reason, adequate production and even distribution of food has of late become a high priority global concern .Agricultural marketing is mainly the buying and selling of agricultural products. In earlier days when the village economy was more or less self-sufficient the marketing of agricultural products presented no difficulty as the farmer sold his produce to the consumer on a cash or barter basis. Today’s agricultural marketing has to undergo a series of exchanges or transfers from one person to another before it reaches the consumer. There are three marketing functions involved in this, i.e., assembling, preparation for consumption and distribution. Selling on any agricultural produce depends on some couple of factors like the demand of the product at that time, availability of storage etc. The products may be sold directly in the market or it may be stored locally for the time being. Moreover, it may be sold as it is gathered from the field or it may be cleaned, graded and processed by the farmer or the merchant of the village. Sometime processing is done because consumers want it, or sometimes to conserve the quality of that product. The task of distribution system is to match the supply with the existing demand by whole selling and retailing in various points of different markets like primary, secondary or terminal markets. Most of the agricultural products in India are sold by farmers in the private sector to moneylenders (to whom the farmer may be indebted) or to village traders. Products are sold in various ways. For example, it might be sold at a weekly village market in the farmer’s village or in a neighboring village. If these outlets are not available, then produce might be sold at irregularly held markets in a nearby village or town, or in the mandi. In India, there are several central government organizations, who are involved in agricultural marketing like, Commission of Agricultural Costs and Prices, Food Corporation of India, Cotton Corporation of India, Jute Corporation of India, etc. There are also specialized marketing bodies for rubber, tea, coffee, tobacco, spices and vegetables. Under the Agricultural Produce (grading and marketing) Act of 1937, more than forty primary commodities are compulsorily graded for export and voluntarily graded for internal consumption. Although the regulation of commodity markets is a function of state government, the directorate of marketing and inspection provides marketing and inspection services and financial aid down to the village level to help set up commodity grading centers in selected markets. As we have a tradition of agricultural production, marketing and allied commercial activities, now it is the time for us to brainstorm and come out with new ideas of value added services. These value added services will give the existing agricultural engine a new dimension. The next logical step could be food-processing which not only could be another revenue generating area but also can provide lots of full-time employment to our youths. With the changing agricultural scenario and global competition, there is a need of exploiting the available resources at maximum level. There was a survey undertaken by the directorate of marketing and inspection in the ministry of agriculture in 1970-71 and 1971-72, of five hundred regulated markets was, with a view to assessing the adequacy and efficiency of the existing regulated markets and highlighting their drawbacks and deficiencies and suggesting measures to develop them. One of the most important drawbacks has been the inadequate financial resources of some of the market committees. During the fourth plan, a central sector scheme was drawn up by the ministry of agriculture to provide a grant at 20 per cent of the cost of development of market, subject to a maximum o Rs. 2 lakhs. The balance will have to be provided by the commercial banks. There are also some good news on the front of irrigation, rural infrastructure, restoring water bodies and water harvesting. Another action initiated to improve the governance of the Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC) including the appointment of a banker as the chief executive; necessary additional capital to be provided to SFAC.