Indian farmers organising their act finally

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In an apparent move to counter the growing influx of foreign and private players in the retail market, Indian farmers have resolved to build a chain of organised outlets to sell their produce directly to consumers.

Confirming the news to Indiaretailing, Sopan Kanchan, president of Confederation of Indian Horticulture, said, “This is an effort to help our farmers to set the prices of their products themselves, without being influenced by the big organised players. The idea is to gather scattered sales into a single sales channel through these farmers’ malls.”

Although the confederation has not decided on any name for the stores, these are likely to be opened in March. “The talks are still at a premature stage and we are yet to finalise the details,” Kanchan said.

The effort is being backed by authorities in the western state of Maharashtra, who have indicated that infrastructure costs for the project could be subsidised.

The stores are slated to house horticultural products produced by the farmers. “The stores will have horticulture products and might be priced a little lower than the others,” Kanchan confirmed.

He further claimed that the plan is receiving an overwhelming response. “We are talking to the farmers’ cooperatives and traders, and the government is very supportive of the idea,” he said.

Initially, the confederation is eyeing to open stores in Pune and later on expand to other parts of the country. “We definitely want to expand our reach and operate in a larger scale,” Kanchan affirmed.

Experts opine that this idea of having a farmers’ retail chain is fuelled by the growing protests made by a section of the society against organised retailers. These protests, according to many, reflect wider social tensions in the fast-growing retail market, where private investment is frequently opposed by traders scared of new retail competition and villagers worried their land will be taken for building factories.

However, the confederation did not want to make any comment on the same. “We do not see them as competitors,” was all that Kanchan admitted to.

– Satrajit Sen

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