Chandel (Manipur), May 26: In every developing economy, the producers surplus of agricultural produces plays a significant role. In this regard from the marketing point of view, this surplus is more important than the total production of commodities. However the marketing of agricultural produce in Manipur has not been systematically organized and hence the agricultural sector of the state is in a very poor condition. The lion’s share of the consumer’s rupee goes to the pockets of innumerable middlemen working in between the producer and the ultimate consumer.
The cultivators of Manipur are generally persons of small means. Their holdings are small and scattered and as such, they have got very little quantity of agricultural produce available individually as a marketable surplus to be disposed off which in turn becomes uneconomical to carry the small quantity of produce to the assembling markets located at distant places where middlemen operate at different stages.
From the baseline survey conducted by ACTED as a part of the project of “improving access to information delivery of public schemes” in the seven backward districts of the five Northeastern states including Manipur it have been observed that one prime reason for the poor marketing scerio of the state is the poor connectivity of the state with the other parts of the country. Connectivity in the hilly region of the area is very poor and in most parts of the region the transportation of agricultural products is extremely difficult. These being the situation, transportation costs of agricultural commodities in the state are very high.
The transport, that gives “place utility” to a farm product, is one of the main problems in Manipur. Consequently, the farmers have to sell their commodities at a lower and uneconomical price to the itinerate traders at their farms itself. In Manipur agricultural marketing of every district is characterized by the existence of excessive middlemen between producers and consumers. The existence of a long chain of middlemen reduces the share of the consumer’s price received by the actual cultivators.
Due to the absence of strict and properly regulated market many complications have emerged between different market regulators, rendering statistical data iccurate etc., thus deliberate malpractices, ignorance and carelessness have all combined to make the consumers in Manipur pay an unnecessarily high price for many goods of different qualities.
The movement of producers surplus seems to be worst during the monsoon season as the road transport is the only means of transport for farm products to distant places. In the monsoon season due to bad road conditions and tear of landslides, the transport charges are very high. Again the cost of transport by road is not uniform as it varies according to the condition of the roads. Idequate transport facility causes glut in the producing area and scarcity in consuming centers at that times affecting both the producer for receiving in lower price and the consumer due to irregular supply and high retail price. The cultivators are not fully aware of the perfect market information. They remain in the dark as to the movement of market prices, demand and supply, government policies, intertiol trends etc.
As such the farmers who are in the villages have no chance to know the prevailing prices at district and state level markets. Most of the cultivators take their course of action on the basis of information supplied by money-lenders, traders, brokers, commission agents and other functiories. This information is virtually wrong as well as biased and detrimental to the interests of the cultivators. In view of the several disadvantages suffered by the cultivators and special characteristics of agricultural products, marketing of agricultural products in the state has become a very complex problem. All these lapses of agricultural marketing in Manipur result in low income to the farmer which causes him to earn a number of hardships, adversely affecting marketing surplus, higher price and poor quality for the consumer and on the whole upsetting the planning process.