"Nadia demonstrates her analytical skills in many ways here, firstly by recognising the wide impact of ITC's digital platform initiative, but also the limitations it presents. Great work!"
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"ITC is empowering 4 million Indian farmers through its initiative e-Choupal.”
Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 150 million people in India1. Approximately 80% of Indian farmers are considered marginal (less than 1 hectare) or small farmers (1–2 hectares) category2. Indian farmers face issues in farming techniques, marketing of agricultural products, indebtedness, use of poor quality seeds, lack of irrigation facilities, etc3.
ITC created e-Choupal in the year 20004. It is an internet-based intervention in rural India4. e-Choupal has reached more than four million Indian farmers4. The initiative covers eight Indian states4. The initiative gives the farmers access to information about soil quality, prices, weather, seed quality inputs, and markets5. 40,000 villages and 6,480 kiosks are attached to this initiative4. Farmers who use e-Choupal on an average get 2.5% higher prices than the traditional mandi system6. Mandi is a traditional Indian market for Agri-products7.
The farmers have the choice to sell their crops to the ITC hub, known as Choupal Sarkar5. The farmer can take his produce to the nearest ITC services hub and sell his produce there - but the choice remains to the farmer5. Furthermore, there is no contract between the farmer and ITC to sell the produce to ITC exclusively5.
This initiative covers farmers growing crops such as soybean, coffee, wheat, pulses, rice, etc4. e-Choupal handles issues like fragmented fields, weak infrastructure, and involvement of intermediaries5. ITC trains farmers or the youth of the village who manage e-Choupal, known as a Facilitator (Sanchalak)5. The computer is connected to the internet through phone lines5. These facilitators keep track of prices on the crops in the local market and inform the farmers5.
However, the company failed to address the issue of fragmented lands8. There are language barriers and a lack of awareness about the initiative9;p2. The initiative is dependent on infrastructure like electricity, phone line which is often not present in an Indian village8.