The boom in organised retail has picked up an unlikely sector. Agrochemical companies, who manufacture pesticides and farm chemicals, are tying up with companies such as Reliance Retail and Bharti Walmart to get their own products to farmers, and with a tip or two.
Most of these retailers are in the process of putting up elaborate logistical chains to enable a smooth transition of goods from the farm to the consumer. ‘Farm to fork’, as this model is known, aims at minimising the steps from the farmer to the retail store.
A farm-to-fork model either sets up a logistical chain owned by the retail company, or outsources it to a logistics company. The chain includes small wholesale markets, or mandis, where the farmer can come and get a good price for his produce.
This produce is then carried directly to the nearest supermarket of the chain, or the warehouse from where it is shipped to the cities.
While the chain from farm to retail store is ferrying produce, the retail store to farm chain is what agrochemicals companies are targeting. They plan to use this part to ferry pesticides and farm chemicals to farmers, according sources in the industry.
The move would supplement demands of the industry to be treated at par with medicines and other agricultural inputs. Speaking to Hindustan Times, S Kumarasamy, Chairman, Agrochemicals Policy Group, said that the focus is now shifting to creating more awareness among farmers.
“Farmers need to be educated on the proper use of pesticides, in the prescribed dosages,” he said. He stressed the similarity between medicines and agrochemicals, saying that a reason why widespread pesticide poisoning might have happened is due to ill-use of the chemicals.
That is why agrochemical companies are planning to tap into the logistics chain of retail giants, who have their own ways of making farmers aware of how they can maximise produce and in turn their income, and minimise crop-loss. Pests damage Rs 90,000 crore worth of agri produce every year, according to a study done by the group.