Government mulls new law to regulate agro markets

Kathmandu, July 18

Agricultural markets would be required to maintain certain standards in the near future as the government is going to govern them through a separate law.

The government has been preparing to introduce a new law for effective management and development of agro markets in the country. The Agro Market Development and Management Bill, drafted by the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), has set certain standards for the agro markets.

As per the provision of the draft bill, wholesale agro markets should mandatorily have sheds and stalls, price information display mechanism, road access, parking, proper facility of water and sanitation, among others. Specifically, the bill has provisioned timely inspection of weighing machines and pest control of the agro products.

The draft bill has provisioned separate stalls for the products harvested from Integrated Pest Management (IPM) area and organic products, at least one stall for each category.

The draft bill has also provisioned mandatory registration of wholesale market at Agribusiness Promotion and Marketing Development Directorate. Similarly, agro collection centres, local weekly markets and agro retail markets should be registered at the District Development Committee. The government will not allow operation of any aforesaid agro markets without proper registration after the law is enforced.

The draft bill has proposed encouraging private sector in development and management of the agro markets.

The government has developed 22 wholesale agro markets across the country. The private sector has also developed three wholesale agro markets — at Balkhu of Kathmandu, Banepa of Kavre and Pokhara (Shree Complex) of Kaski. However, the government has not recognised them as agro markets.

Once the bill is endorsed from the Parliament, all wholesale markets would have to obtain registration certificate from the Agribusiness Promotion and Marketing Development Directorate.

In addition, the MoAD in the draft bill has proposed intensive participation of private sector in development and management of agricultural markets.

The draft bill has provisioned incentives to the private sector for agro market development in specific areas. Market development will ensure income sources for the producer farmers.

The draft bill has even specified the role of private sector in market development and management of the government-owned markets and also paved the way to develop agro markets in public-private partnership.

Currently, the ago markets developed by the government are being operated by the development committee, chaired by the government officials and comprising representatives of wholesale traders of the same market and representatives of the producers selected by the MoAD.

The draft bill has ensured participation of agriculture cooperatives and farmers’ groups, especially in wholesale markets. The wholesale markets would need to

provide 25 per cent of the stalls to the cooperatives and farmers’ groups. This approach, as per MoAD, will be supportive in making price interventions of agro products.

The draft bill has also identified the role of private sector in capacity building of local farmers for operation of local weekly markets and development of collection centres.

Currently, the government has been operating wholesale markets through Agro Market Management and Development Directive.