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ITC connects Rajasthan to e-choupal
The Business Standard - 21 May 2004

Pradeep Gooptu

ITC Ltd has extended its e-choupal initiative to Rajasthan and has added two more commodities, pulses and mustard, to its trading basket.

Thus, ITC has extended its network to six states covering more than 21,200 villages through 4,100 e-choupals, providing access to over 2.4 million farmers.

"Rajasthan has become the sixth state in our network, and the choupals are trading in soya, wheat, mustard and pulses", S Sivakumar, chief executive, agri business group, said.

The e-choupal initiative bagged the 'World Business award', instituted by the International Chamber of Commerce and the United Nations Development Programme on May 18 in Paris.

The e-choupals in Rajasthan have been set up at Kota, Bundi and Jhlalwar and are being rolled out elsewhere in the state.

In addition, the network is being extended in Maharashtra with the Vidharba area being covered as of now. In Andhra Pradesh, the company had been negotiating with the state for extension of its basket of products beyond the existing aquaculture products.

"In view of the elections, negotiations were stalled and will be resumed soon with the new government", Sivakumar said.

ITC would like to take up trade in chillies and turmeric in collaboration with government agencies in Andhra.

Sivakumar said the e-choupal system was running ahead of expectation in terms of number of transactions. Despite the seasonal nature of trade based on crop cycles and harvesting seasons, the network was doing trades in excess of Rs 1.5 crore a day.

Farmers using e-choupals were able to align farming to domestic and international market trends because the system provided advance information on demand besides expertise on crop quality and productivity.

Higher quality farming inputs were also delivered through the system, Sivakumar said.

The company was able to generate savings in purchase of agricultural commodities, particularly for high-quality agricultural products.
In addition, the e-choupals yielded revenue in the form of trading profits of commodities sold through the systems.

Products being distributed or promoted through the system now covered 70 companies in sectors such as agricultural inputs, FMCG, consumer durables and services.

Products being only promoted through the system on payment basis, included farming equipment and tools, harvesters and tractors and related consumables such as lubricants. Distribution and promotion charges on a per-choupal basis generated additional revenues, Sivakumar added.