Comparative Analysis of the Middlemen Ecosystem and their Association with Farmers as Facilitators or Barriers in Indian Agriculture
Author : Arsh Mittal
Modern School, Barakhamba Road, Delhi, India.
This research aims to study the viability of middlemen in Indian agricultural produce marketing, examining the benefits and obstacles they present to farmers. Previous literature has covered research in several domains to identify the implication of middlemen. However, the relevance of middlemen has been a debatable topic, without clear judgment on whether they are truly beneficial for farmers. This research aims to find concrete answers and express a holistic view on middlemen functioning based on five major themes. The first three themes include examining how middlemen provide cash flow for smallholder farmers, how they provide for adequate cold storage to tackle produce spoilage, and how they facilitate the marketing function. The other themes include examining speculated middlemen exploitation, on grounds of offering low prices to farmers and misusing their hold on better market information to the detriment of farmers. Based on secondary data sources, a collective opinion is presented. The significance of middlemen remains true only if the value addition exceeds the costs. Moreover, farmers are observed to be dependent on middlemen for services of credit, storage, and marketing, as there seems to be no alternative developed channel of trade, and challenges in providing such services through government bodies. This dependence provides room for middlemen to adopt unfair practices which can be tackled if more regulated services are catered by the government, supplemented by adequate infrastructural support. This research hopes to open avenues of agricultural advancement by increasing marketing efficiencies and suitably responding to the middlemen ecosystem.