Bengaluru: Farmers are unaware of Arka Vyapar, an application developed by the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR) to connect farmers with the traders.
K. Hanumaiah, a farmer, informed The Observer: “I am not aware of this application. When the government launches a scheme or an application, either we don’t benefit from the same or we aren’t aware of it.
C. Lata, another farmer said: “I have neither heard of such an application nor will I. The government’s schemes or initiatives have never reached lay people; they remains limited to certain people.”
When The Observer asked why the app is not downloadable from Google Play Store, Dr C. Aswath, a principal scientist at IIHR, said that due to technical issues, the launch of the application is delayed. “We are still integrating the Active Pharmaceuticals Ingredients (API) data and hence will take one more week to launch the application. By facilitating an e-trading platform, the application will remove barriers and will allow filtering the traders by offering three categories to select prospective traders: within 100 km; 100-500 km; and above 500 km,” he added.
Though unaware of the Arka Vyapar app, farmers believe it will help to prevent their exploitation over prices.
M. N. Narasamma, a farmer who produces ragi and pulses, said: “I haven’t heard of such an application. However, I believe it may help me to sell my farm produce at better prices. We sell to local traders and, hence, most of the time we have to sell at lower prices as compared to the market prices.”
The prices are continuously decreasing. Earlier, the price of ragi was around Rs 3,500 a quintal, which has now come down to reduced to Rs 3,000. “The app may prevent us from traders’ manipulation,” she added.
Farmers often face price exploitation and non-transparency in the trading process from commission agents in APMC mandis who act as mediators between farmers and traders.
“A farmer can find traders by simply setting the price and name of their agricultural produce. At the rate that matches the prospective traders, the price will pop up in the farmer’s device. This will enable them to sell their farm produce as per their convenience,” added Aswath.
Lakshmamma R., another farmer, said: “Even the mandi system lacks transparency. Most of the time, traders give very cheap prices for our agricultural produce.” The Arka Vyapar app may give farmers the freedom to sell their products across the country and create several trading options.
H. Chandru, a farmer who grows ragi, wheat and rice, said: “As we get lower prices from traders, we end up selling our produce to our relatives. Such an application might help us to earn more.
When The Observer asked whether IIHR has taken any initiative to make farmers aware of the app, Aswath replied: “We announced during the valedictory of the five-day National Horticulture Fair organized by the institute at its Hesaraghatta campus. The application is yet to be launched. Later, we will make aware farmers through radio and TV advertisements.”
Malikarjun, the founder of MHR Foundation, an organization involved in organic farming, said: “I am not aware of this application. But I believe Arka Vyapar will grant bargaining power to farmers. Amidst several technological advancements and price exploitations in the agricultural industry, farmers need greater awareness and clarity to sell their products at fair prices.”