Market information is needed by farmers in planning production and marketing, and equally needed by other market participants in arriving at optimal trading decisions. The existence and dissemination of complete and accurate marketing information is the key to achieve both operational and pricing efficiency in the marketing system. Advancement in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has made the world a
smaller place and a larger market at one go. To fully utilize the new emerging trade opportunities for the benefit of farming community, there is a felt need to establish an ICT based "Agricultural Marketing Information Network' in the country.
Towards this end, Ministry of Agriculture has launched the ICT based Central Sector Scheme of Agricultural Marketing Information Network (AGMARKNET), in March, 2000, to link important agricultural produce markets spread all over the country and the State Agriculture Marketing Boards and Directorates. The project is being executed with the technical support of National Informatics Centre (NIC). The scheme has made rapid strides during 2001-02 and 2002-03. A total number of 810 nodes have been covered under the scheme comprising 735 agricultural produce markets(Annexure-I) and State Agricultural Marketing Boards/ Directorates etc. Necessary Computer hardware and system software tools (Annexure-II) have been supplied to all the nodes and as many as 500 market nodes have become functional by April, 2003. A user friendly software package 'AGMARK', developed to facilitate organization and transmission of market data, has been implemented in the markets. In order to strengthen interface with farmers and other beneficiaries, AGMARKNET portal (http://www.agmarknet.nic.in) has been evolved. 300 plus markets are regularly reporting price related data which is being disseminated through the portal. The AGMARKNET portal also serves as a single window for accessing websites of various organizations concerned with agricultural
marketing. It provides weekly trend analysis for important markets in respect of major commodities. It is also linked with Online Commodity Exchange of India Limited, providing futures prices in respect of oilseeds, fiber crops etc. International price-trends of various agricultural commodities available on FAO website are also accessible through the portal. The portal is constantly being enriched.
During the X Plan, the scheme is planned to be extended to cover 2000 more agricultural markets in the country. Out of the existing 7300 wholesale markets in the country, 2735 i.e. 37 per cent would have on-line facility under the scheme by the end of X Plan. In order to facilitate market access of farm produce to larger markets, the proposed scheme will additionally provide information on market requirements in terms of quality, packing, standards, sanitary and phyto-sanitary conditions, etc. The scope of data collection and dissemination will be enlarged to provide farmers information regarding pack-size, packaging material and marketing charges in a market where goods are tobe delivered, facilities available to farmers in a buying market, re-handling of the produce, if necessary, in the destination market to suit the requirements of the market buyers and rules and regulations of the destination market, if located outside the State.
Promotion of nationally and internationally acceptable standards of grading and standardization, packaging and labeling, storage and warehousing and sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements and quality certification in farm sector will enable trade and processing sector to undertake large scale agricultural marketing operations in domestic as well as international markets.
The information relating to the schemes in respect of agricultural marketing implemented by Government Departments and central agencies viz. Commerce, Food and Public Distribution, Consumer Affairs, Health and CCI, JCI, NCDC, NAFED, NTGF, TRIFED, NCCF, NDDB, NHB, APEDA, MPEDA will also be disseminated in user friendly manner. An e-directory of AGMARKNET nodes will be published over the portal to facilitate effective and timely exchange of information among markets and other users. Once the farm produce is standardized and labeled, backed by quality certification, it can be directly offered for sale on web site in national and international markets.