NCDEX e-Markets Ltd (NeML), India’s leading Agri-tech company’s Implementation of Mandi Modernization Program (MMP) is a major revolution in the world of primary Agri markets of India. The process of digitization in primary markets in the country started with this first step in Gulbarga APMC, Karnataka way back in 2011. The seed of primary market digitization was first planted by the State Government of Karnataka jointly with the help of NeML (formerly known as NSpot – NCDEX Spot Exchange), under the leadership of Mr. Chandra Mohan (Former Secretary APMC Gulbarga), Mr. Ramaseshan (MD NCDEX) and Mr. Ravindra Shevade (NeML, CTO).
This first-of-its- kind implementation helped the Karnataka State Government in gathering critical statistics such as commodity wise arrival in the market yard, sales, prices, participation and most importantly, the market cess to be levied. The State Government could now easily assess the actual gap between the expected and actual collection. This pioneering implementation not only helped in increasing outside participation but led to better price discovery too, with farmers getting real-time market updates on SMS regarding the sale of their produce. Simultaneously, the MMP also introduced a feature to capture scientific and automatic assaying results. This feature minimized the wastage of quite a few tons of commodity due to the earlier manual assessment method of assaying at Gulbarga APMC.
The result of the Gulbarga effort was quite promising for eventual state-wide implementation; however, the path was equally challenging. While developing the features, the team had to be cognisant of the fact that the same implementation needs to be extended and replicability into another APMCs in Karnataka as well. While doing this, team came across varied processes and formats, such as, different ways of recording arrival in different APMCs, different formats in which winner list is declared, different names used in different markets for same commodity and so on. For this very reason, team had to consider an extremely generic approach to ensure the easy adaptability for other APMCs in the state as well. Apart from all this, the entire application was expected to support three languages, viz. English, Hindi and the regional language i.e Kannada in this case.
With great effort, team evolved a mechanism to integrate all these dynamic features under one roof of MMP. The technology stack selected was ASP.NET, Oracle 12c and jQuery. The servers were on premise in Mumbai. The implementation offered a huge range of features which included invoice generation, settlement and also pledging (loan on the unsold commodity) for farmers. However, in the initial period, the basic processes till price discovery were used extensively on the platform. Over period of time and with increased user comfort with the application, they started employing and accepting other sophisticated features of the platform as well.
The Gulbarga implementation went live in December 2011. It was one of the most critical go-live for both the stake holders, the state government of Karnataka and NSPOT. For this reason, the entire development and UAT team had visited the Gulbarga market yard to better understand and experience first-hand the market operations, a fortnight before the go-live date. This was a great help to create a better understanding of the process for all the team members and address the issues in the implementation. The team spent sleepless nights to better understand and experience the market processes and operations first-hand. This vigil enabled them to make the necessary improvisations to the MMP platform on a war footing. All these efforts paid dividends with the Gulbarga deployment going live successfully on 11 December, 2011 as scheduled.
In entire world it was a first effort to digitize a Mandi … i.e. the APMC yard.
In time and with increased acceptance of the APMC stakeholders, the platform has evolved with wider reach and heightened features, which now includes many advanced features such as unified trading platform for all commodities across APMCs, bank integration for online pay-outs to farmers and many more. The Gulbarga MMP is now metamorphized in to a single Unified Market Platform (UMP) in almost all major APMCs (more than 167) of the state of Karnataka.
The feather in the cap for the team and an acknowledgement of Karnataka UMP success was when the Central Government mentioned the ‘Karnataka model’ in the annual budget of FY2016-17 and recommended that this model be rolled out at a National level. The National implementation is now entrusted with Government owned National Agriculture Market (eNAM), which is tasked with networking the existing APMC mandis across the country to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.
Today eNAM has taken over the Gulbarga APMC officially. NeML got official instructions to discontinue the services at Gulbarga. The production server hosted on Dec 2011 has been taken down now … with immense sadness and at the same time with a feeling of satisfaction of serving the best to Gulbarga throughout this period. After all, … it had been the first child of MMP implementation!
Today Gulbarga APMC has been officially integrated in to eNAM with NeML discontinuing the services. Though NeML is not involved in the national roll-out, it takes great pride in being a first e-Market Place to successfully implement MMP in the country. With the server being taken down at NeML, it is with immense satisfaction of having pioneered the first such agri-market digitization project it hands over this baton to eNAM.