Agarwal said the lockdown is unprecedented and many things on the ground got stopped. With agri-buying and moving of inter-state trucks being allowed during the lockdown, I don’t see any scarcity of food for the general public.
Noida, India: 20th April, 2020
With the government allowing the purchase of farmer produce on the e-Nam portal and private players benefitting from this move, the APMC closure effect will get mitigated, Amith Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO – AgriBazaar, said in an interview with Moneycontrol.
Q: What supply chain disruptions are you facing due to COVID-19?
A: With the government waiving agriculture and allied services from the lockdown, the supply chain disruption has since got corrected to a greater extent. The inter-state transport of various farm produce has started, and we are able to reach the farmers locally to pick up their produce.
Getting labour is becoming a key challenge in the current situation. To ensure the agri-supply chain, our company’s app is maintained while farmers practise social distancing and other safety measures by staying at home.
Q: What products are coming through farmers right now?
A: As an online e-mandi, we are seeing all types of agri-produce being traded in our portal. Pulses, grains, oilseeds, fruits and dry nuts are put up for sale by farmers.
Q: What additional costs are you incurring due to social distancing; on manpower, packaging, fumigation etc?
A: Our cost for COVID-19 readiness has been added. However, it is not a substantial cost. It will rather help in building a sense of personal hygiene and safety at the workplace. Providing employees with safety gear like face masks and hand sanitisers plus deep cleaning the vehicles are the key costs.
Q: How difficult is it to transport goods and do you have the full cooperation of Police authorities, APMCs, local municipal bodies?
A: I must commend the Central, State and local authorities like police for being proactive in issuing passes to our vehicles. Initially, the message did not reach at the lower level but now things have improved significantly. To give an example, a farmer from Baramati sent a truckload of fresh grapes to various traders in far off places like Ludhiana, Jaipur, Kota, etc. The trade was done on the www.agribazaar.com app.
Q: What is your opinion on restricting trade timings?
A: We need to understand that COVID-19 is a serious health pandemic and, hence, whatever is required to save lives and keep our nation healthy needs to be followed.
Q: In a few places retailing of agri goods like onion and potato market in Mumbai has been closed; what is the impact on the retail segment? How much has pricing been affected due to closing down of big APMCs?
A: While I cannot comment on the above specifically as I don’t have complete knowledge, let us tell you a broader scenario. With the government allowing the purchase of farmer produce on the e-Nam portal and private players like us benefiting from this move, the APMC closure effect will get mitigated.
Both farmers & Farmers Producer Network (FPN) have been allowed to purchase and source directly. In cities, quite a few online start-ups have started supply of fresh vegetables and other produce directly to housing societies. With online sourcing opening up and APMCs also starting to function in a manner keeping social distancing norms, I do not see a significant worry of the price increase.
Q: The retail price of onion and potato were selling at Rs 25/kg in Mumbai before the lockdown and now it has jumped to Rs 40/kg due to shortage of supply. Will the prices will come down again, what will be the impact and availability?
A: The lockdown is unprecedented and many things on the ground got stopped. With agri-buying and moving of inter-state trucks being allowed during the lockdown, I don’t see any scarcity of food for the general public. Any price increase will see the correction in the near time as supplies get restored.
Read more: moneycontrol | Forbes