To know more about ITC's unique e-Choupal initiative click here ITC's pre-eminent position as one of India's leading corporates in the agricultural sector is based on strong and enduring farmer partnerships that has revolutionized and transformed the rural agricultural sector. A unique rural digital infrastructure network, coupled with deep understanding of agricultural practices and intensive research, has built a competitive and efficient supply chain that creates and delivers immense value across the agricultural value chain.
The Big Picture ITC's Agri Business Division, one of India's largest exporters of agricultural commodities, has conceived e-Choupal as a more efficient supply chain aimed at delivering value to its customers around the world on a sustainable basis.
The e-Choupal model has been specifically designed to tackle the challenges posed by the unique features of Indian agriculture, characterised by fragmented farms, weak infrastructure and the involvement of numerous intermediaries, among others.
Such a market-led business model can enhance the competitiveness of Indian agriculture and trigger a virtuous cycle of higher productivity, higher incomes, enlarged capacity for farmer risk management, larger investments and higher quality and productivity.
Further, a growth in rural incomes will also unleash the latent demand for industrial goods so necessary for the continued growth of the Indian economy. This will create another virtuous cycle propelling the economy into a higher growth trajectory. The Model in Action Appreciating the imperative of intermediaries in the Indian context, 'e-Choupal' leverages Information Technology to virtually cluster all the value chain participants, delivering the same benefits as vertical integration does in mature agricultural economies like the USA.
The aggregation of the demand for farm inputs from individual farmers gives them access to high quality inputs from established and reputed manufacturers at fair prices. As a direct marketing channel, virtually linked to the 'mandi' system for price discovery, 'e-Choupal' eliminates wasteful intermediation and multiple handling.
Thereby it significantly reduces transaction costs. While the farmers benefit through enhanced farm productivity and higher farm gate prices, ITC benefits from the lower net cost of procurement despite offering better prices to the farmer having eliminated costs in the supply chain that do not add value.
The Status of Execution Launched in June'e-Choupal', has already become the largest initiative among all Internet-based interventions in rural India. The problems encountered while setting up and managing these 'e-Choupals' are primarily of infrastructural inadequacies, including power supply, telecom connectivity and bandwidth, apart from the challenge of imparting skills to the first time internet users in remote and inaccessible areas of rural India.
Several alternative and innovative solutions - some of them expensive - are being deployed to overcome these challenges e. Power back-up through batteries charged by Solar panels, upgrading BSNL exchanges with RNS kits, installation of VSAT equipment, Mobile Choupals, local caching of static content on website to stream in the dynamic content more efficiently, 24x7 helpdesk etc.
As India's 'kissan' Company, ITC has taken care to involve farmers in the designing and management of the entire 'e-Choupal' initiative. The active participation of farmers in this rural initiative has created a sense of ownership in the project among the farmers. They see the 'e-Choupal' as the new age cooperative for all practical purposes.
This enthusiastic response from farmers has encouraged ITC to plan for the extension of the 'e-Choupal' initiative to altogether 15 states across India over the next few years.
On the anvil are plans to channelise other services related to micro-credit, health and education through the same 'e-Choupal' infrastructure. Another path-breaking initiative - the 'Choupal Pradarshan Khet', brings the benefits of agricultural best practices to small and marginal farmers.
Backed by intensive research and knowledge, this initiative provides Agri-extension services which are qualitatively superior and involves pro-active handholding of farmers to ensure productivity gains.
The services are customised to meet local conditions, ensure timely availability of farm inputs including credit, and provide a cluster of farmer schools for capturing indigenous knowledge.
This initiative, which has covered over 64, hectares, has a multiplier impact and reaches out to around 70, farmers.
Awards ITC's e-Choupal has won numerous awards: The Stockholm Challenge This award is for using information technology for the economic development of rural communities. The first of its kind in India, based on parameters of number of lives impacted, degree of impact on organization and environment, uniqueness, leverage of resources and whether it was scalable and sustainable, e-Choupal was declared as one of 'India's Best Innovations'.
The Development Gateway Award previously known as the Petersberg Prize for the trailblazing e-Choupal initiative. ITC is the first Indian company and the second in the world to win this prestigious award. The Company received this award for its e-Choupal and social and farm forestry initiatives that are impactfully transforming lives and landscapes in rural India.
The Award provides impetus to sustainable development and encourages ongoing social responsibility processes within the corporate sector. This award recognises companies who have made significant efforts to create sustainable livelihood opportunities and enduring wealth in developing countries.
The Golden Peacock Innovation Award The agri-business division now has two strategic business units (SBUs) — one is tobacco leaf business and the other focussing on agribusiness. KOLKATA: ITC merged its tobacco leaf and agri-business divisions to scale it up, considering the critical back-end support the combination could provide to.
S Sivakumar oversees Agri and IT Businesses of the Company. He was the Divisional Chief Executive of the Agri Business Division till November He is the Chairman of Technico Agri Sciences Limited, and Vice Chairman of ITC Infotech India Limited and its subsidiaries in the UK and USA.
KOLKATA: ITC merged its tobacco leaf and agri-business divisions to scale it up, considering the critical back-end support the combination could provide to the conglomerate’s expansion in the FMCG sector, particularly packaged food, where it has ambitions to become the country’s largest.
ITC's Agri Business Division continues to use innovation as its core strategy to retain its position as the one-stop shop for sourcing agri-commodities from India. Besides setting benchmarks in quality, reliability and value-added services, ITC is a trendsetter in customer care particularly in commodity trading.
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Revenues were driven mainly by FMCG – others, agri-business and hotels business, the company said in a statement. ITC shares fell by % on the BSE and % on the NSE. FMCG boost.