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ITC to set up a shopping complex at Ujjain
Business-standard.com - 30 Mar 2006

ITC has plans to develop a shopping complex in Ujjain at an investment of Rs 8 crore. The complex will focus on the requirements of the farmers in villages near Ujjain, 60 km away from Indore. Choupal Sagar, ITC's new shopping venture, will sell branded products, seeds, fertilisers and agricultural equipment. The company plans to set up 15 new Choupal Sagars in Madhya Pradesh by the end of this year. Choupal Sagar, which is very popular among farmers, is expected to generate revenues of around Rs 20-30 crore annually. ITC took this initiative four years back when it provided computers with internet facility to farmers in Madhya Pradesh.

"The Choupal Sagar will also house an advisory centre, which will offer services like medical help along with petrol pumps and soil-testing facilities. The farmers will also be able to purchase crop-insurance and life insurance policies at the centre," added Pankaj Agrawal, coordinator, ITC. The company expects that Choupal Sagar to spread across 3 lakh square feet. It will commence functioning by June this year. The company has already set up four such Choupals at Sehore, Vidisha, Mhow and Mandsaur and more will be set up at Dewas, Nagda, Itarsi and Mandideep. Agarwal informed that company is targeting around 2,000 Choupals across the country by 2008-09. The company feeds in prices of various agriculture produce a day in advance. These prices are either at par with the prevailing prices at the local mandi or a little higher.

Besides, the company has also appointed directors, who would coordinate the company's programmes in four to five villages, while each village will have one deputy director. These officials will maintain and operate the computers by feeding prices given by the company. They will also inform the villagers about the prices and buy the agricultural produce on behalf of the company from farmers and compensate them. Thus the farmers would not only get to know about the prevailing prices a day in advance, but also be able to sell their produce and get cash payment without delays.

This also obviates the need for them to take their produce to the mandi. ITC did business worth more than Rs 10 crore, last year through this network of farmers in various villages of the state.