The government has introduced welcome improvements to the e-NAM (electronic national agriculture market) user interface to make it more user-friendly. But many structural problems remain.

What should have been an alternative marketplace for farmers has become an enclave for traders who were already involved in the mandi system. The entry barriers for becoming a trader prevent competitors from establishing themselves, ensuring hefty margins for the incumbents.

The platform, thus far, has limited intra-state and negligible inter-state trade. Only 14 states and one Union territory have adopted the platform. Where it is present, there are no facilities for quality assessment of the produce or a dispute resolution mechanism, making remote purchases precarious for the buyer.

The goal of doubling farmers’ income will remain elusive, budget promises notwithstanding, until the government is willing to spend political capital to overcome the traders’ lobby and implement the e-NAM in spirit, not just in form.

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