Budding managers get a feel of rural-onomics

With rural markets slated to be the battleground for cos, IIM-L is giving students a first-hand experience of village scenario.

lucknow Updated: Aug 22, 2012 16:25 IST
Hindustan Times

Union minister for steel Beni Prasad Verma may have stoked a controversy with his comment that price rise was beneficial for farmers. But a team of students from the IIM Lucknow has observed that farmers are not gullible.

The budding managers are of the view that farmers understand the market forces better than most people in urban areas.

Eighteen second-year students of agri business management (ABM) course came to this conclusion while interacting with farmers during their visit to rural areas around the state capital. They undertook the exercise to understand the distribution and usage of agricultural inputs including fertilisers, pesticides and seeds.

During the daylong trip recently, the students of post graduate programme interacted with sales managers, distributors, retailers of agri-products and farmers to understand the different facets of distribution such as inventory management, sales and trade promotions, margins and channel conflicts and the challenges faced by farmers in purchasing agri-inputs. The students felt that farmers were particular about the quality of inputs.

IIM-L believes in giving its students the right exposure — be it in the corporate world or the rural sector. Understanding the rural sector is especially relevant now, with rural markets slated to be the battleground for companies vying for market leadership.

The interaction was an eyeopener for students. Mayank Khulbe, a second year agribusiness management (ABM) student, said: “Farmers are price conscious while purchasing products such as mobile SIM cards. They also frequently change their service operator based on the best deal available. But on the other hand they are ready to pay higher prices for quality agri-inputs, as these inputs directly affect their source of livelihood. Therefore, the belief that all products have to be priced low for the rural market is a myth.”

The field visits also served as a first-hand experience for students vis-à-vis practical application of theoretical concepts. Anish Agarwal, another second year ABM student, said they got to how the colour of packaging plays an important role in rural sales. “We saw this being practiced by a brand, which specifically sold its neemcoated urea in yellow sacks, which influenced farmers to ask for the yellow pack urea,” he said.

Next month, students will be visiting a rural area for one week where they will conduct a research project. Prof Jabir Ali of the Centre for Food and Agribusiness at IIM Lucknow, who coordinates these rural visits, says: “Field visits are an integral component of our ABM curriculum. Students undertake live field projects in villages where they understand the ground realities, agricultural production system, local resources and constraints related to income and livelihood of the farming community.”

First Published: Aug 22, 2012 16:21 IST