June 20, 2020 was a significant day for ITC Limited.
It marked the 20th Anniversary of establishing E-Choupal, an initiative that has empowered more than 4 Million Farmers.
What exactly is E-Choupal?
Well, for a Management Student, the name E-Choupal will still ring a bell & is arguably one of the classic case studies in the curriculum.
It is the World’s Largest Rural Digital Infrastructure, designed to tackle the challenges posed by the unique features of Indian agriculture.
Characterised by weakened infrastructure, fragmented farms & the involvement of infinite intermediaries, ITC helped in enhancing the competitiveness of Indian Agriculture.
What started with a single computer kiosk in the village of Misrod in Madhya Pradesh, has transformed into a holistic village ecosystem, leveraging the power of IT & Internet.
Some salient features include:
▪️Easily accessible information on the weather & market prices, in local language
▪️Knowledge transfer on scientific farm practices & risk management
▪️ Facilitating the sale of farm inputs
▪️ Purchasing produce from the farmers’ doorsteps
Due to the eChoupal services, farmers have seen a rise in their income levels because of rise in yields, improvement in quality of output and a fall in transaction costs. Even small farmers have gained from the initiative.
Customized and relevant knowledge has been offered to the farmers despite heterogeneous cultures, climates and scales of production & farmers get real-time information despite their physical distance from the mandis (Government mandated Market-yard where farmers sell their crops).
The system saved procurement costs for ITC & eliminated non-value added activities as well.
Selling & Delivering Goods through the E-Choupal happened through 3 ways:
▪️At Village Level, where the Sanchalak (The Village Farmer who runs the E-Choupal as ITC’s representative) aggregates orders of the villagers
▪️Sanchalak buys products based on demand forecast
▪️Sanchalaks and Villagers buy a variety of products at the processing facilities called Choupal Saagars
Here’s a glimpse of the 20 Year Journey of E-Choupal
With advances in digital technologies, E-Choupal 4.0 is looking at a more collaborative & integrated approach, with features like rapid quality testing.
E-Choupal has definitely changed the lives of farmers on a scale no other venture has ever done.
Source: ITC, The Hindu