Slow growth hobbles agri platform eNAM, cumulative turnover reaches Rs 85k cr

eNAM Cumulative Turnover

eNAM, the electronic National Agricultural Market that was unveiled three-and-a-half years ago, has seen the total cumulative turnover on its platform hit Rs 84,842, Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.

He said a total of 1.65 cr farmers in 18 states and union territories have been brought onto to the electronic agricultural commodity trading platform.

The last time the government gave an update on the turnover of the eNAM platform was in June this year, when the trading platform had seen total transactions of Rs 70,784, up from Rs 61,000 cr in January.

Worryingly, the numbers indicate that eNAM is not scaling as fast as would be expected of such a young enterprise.

In calendar year 2018, the platform saw a turnover of around Rs 25,000 cr. If the current trend holds, the turnover for 2019 will be around Rs 30,000 cr.

In comparison, the turnover of the Unified Market Platform of Karnataka — which is similar to eNAM, but restricted to the farmers of Karnataka — was Rs 40,600 cr in FY18, and estimated at around Rs 48,000 cr for the year ended March 2019.

For year 2019, therefore, the Karnataka’s UMP is likely to post a turnover of around Rs 51,000-52,000 crore, almost double that of the national platform.

The key difference between the eNAM and the UTM is that the first one is managed by Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC) with the help of technology provider, NFCL’s iKisan division, while the Karnataka platform is operated by Rashtriya e-Market Services (ReMS), a 50:50 venture of Government of Karntaka and NCDEX. NCDEX is a private firm which also operates the NCDEX market, India’s largest agriculture commodity exchange.

The eNAM was launched in 2016, two years after the Karntaka government launched the UTM, and has connected 585 of the biggest APMC Mandis or market places of the country. APMC markets are the traditional sites where farmers are required to sell their produce.

Both platforms allow farmers and traders to buy and sell agricultural commodities. UTM, which connects over 200 markets, also has institutional buyers like Cargill, ITC, Reliance, Godrej Agro and Metro Cash & Carry who place orders for commodities on the platform.

In addition, traders from neighboring states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala are also allowed to place orders for commodities on the platform.

In comparison, most of the trading on eNAMs are still shown to be intra-mandi, or within a single mandi or market place.

There have also been reports that many mandis show offline transactions as online transactions to push up their numbers on eNAM. One of the reasons for the low turnover may be that traders still prefer to buy the produce offline, while using eNAM to determine the price.

Karnataka has so far refused to join the eNAM platform pointing out its limited scale and very few inter-state trades that take place on the platform.

Inter-state trades are likely to be a big draw for a national platform like eNAM. However, such trades also require some reforms that allow free movement of goods, as well as facilities to evaluate and certify the quality of agricultural produce.

eNAM has taken the first steps in this direction, including bringing onboard logistic providers (lorry operators) so that a trader from a far-away place can place an order for a commodity and also hire a lorry to have it delivered to his place.