Amith Aggarwal is the Co-Founder and CEO of agribazaar, an agri-tech platform which facilitates transactions of agricultural commodities by connecting farmers and buyers of agri commodities. Amith’s passion for uplifting the farming community through a sustained business approach has been a driving force behind his pursuits.
It’s long been witnessed that during any pandemic, the primary sectors that suffer are agriculture, F&Bs, Consumer durables amongst others. COVID-19 hasn’t been an exception to this fact. Farmers need good quality seeds, proper ware-housing facilities, the access to mandis, quick turn-out or payment processes to keep the agricultural economies cycle rotating smoothly.
COVID-19 has more or less impacted all of these fundamentals in its wake. Currently, the ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) is still in its emerging stages assessing the impact of COVID-19 in terms of deficits, shortage in food security and impact on farmers’ welfare. Additionally, fearful vegetable mandis across the country in places like Indore, Pune are opting to stay bolted to discourage the spread of COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the recent exemption norms that were announced by the central and state governments for the agricultural sector has rallied positive sentiments and has been a ray of hope for the farmers. States such as Telangana, UP, Maharashtra have been pro-active and issued referendums that mandis would constitute as essential commodities and should stay open at all times. Also, several cares and special packages along with subsidies are being incorporated by the state and central governments for farmers so as the sector remains unscathed.
The government’s sole focus is to make the most of the up-coming rabi season and to this effect, agricultural allied services( which constitute the backbone of agriculture sector) such as fertilizers, supply chain and logistical support, cross-over or temporary mandis also have been granted an exemption by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Another aspect which has come to the forefront is that government is prioritizing the online- mandis or eNAMs where farmers would have less to none physical contact with others at the same time ensure their produce will get the best price with the addition of a proper supply chain and logistical support.
As a matter of fact, as many mandis are being locked, there were new features added on the eNAM app where Supply Chain aggregators bid to farmers to provide them logistical support. The newly updated warehouse-based trading module in e-NAM software will facilitate trading from the premises of warehouses based on negotiable warehouse receipts in electronic form (e-NWR), while the other module will allow farmers get access to the e-NAM platform from collection centres of FPOs.
Currently as per IBEF report as many as 585 mandis in 16 states are already connected under eNAM and the government expects this number to go up by 1200 by the end of 2020 in the wake of Covid-19. In addition to e-NAM, we have been working with farmers to provide end to end support in terms of supply chain management, quality assurance (seeds and fertilizers), loans, compliance, etc.
In conclusion, the need of the hour is to maintain minimum to less physical contact and self-isolation. Going digital is the only efficient way and gradually the farmers too are learning to transcend to the journey of online mandis.
More about Amith Aggarwal and Agribazaar
Amith Aggarwal has travelled extensively to the rural and agrarian locations in the country and fathomed the needs of farmers. Coupled with it, is his deep-rooted affinity for technology adoption and digital innovation. Throughout his career, he has been at the helm at some of India’s most transformative agri start-ups. His ventures have created an impact at scale with support from global investors.Agribazaar, besides facilitating transactions, the platform offers services like selling seeds, providing farm-intelligence to farmers via AI-based intelligence systems built through satellite images.