WITH FARMERS from across the state making most of the e-commerce firms that deal with agro-products — from seeds to pesticides, agricultural equipment and nutrients for the crops — the postal department is witnessing a multi-fold growth in its revenue generated only through orders booked related to agricultural products.
Between March and October 2016, the postal department of Pune region has earned a revenue of Rs 84,28,740 exclusively through shipping of agricultural products that were supplied to villagers based across four districts that come under Pune region — Pune, Satara, Ahmednagar and Solapur. From March 2016, when the postal department received altogether 1,365 orders from all four districts that generated a revenue of Rs 2,55,589, the department has seen a consistent month-on-month growth — April (Rs 3.22 lakh), May (Rs 6.63 lakh), June (Rs 10.52 lakh), July (Rs 13.27 lakh), August (Rs 12.75 lakh), September (Rs 17.56 lakh) and October (Rs 17.76 lakh).
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“The growth in the number of consignments has been consistent and substantial and has resulted in the growth of gross revenue. It shows that the demand for agricultural products is growing in the rural sector. The farmers are benefiting from the mechanism that delivers the products to their doorstep. Earlier, they used to go to local krishi kendras, where the choice of products was limited. Through e-commerce companies, they not only get a wide variety but also better quality products. Another feature that attracts farmers to this service is that they don’t even have to invest in a phone call but give a missed call. Besides, the orders are on cash-on-delivery basis; there’s no risk involved,” said Postmaster General of Pune Region, Ganesh V Sawaleshwarkar.
And this is how it works. The farmers give a missed call on the number of the e-commerce company that deals with agricultural products. Soon, a representative from the company’s call centre contacts the farmer and takes his query/order. The company books the parcel of product ordered by the farmer with the nearby post office paying the shipping charges depending upon the weight of the product and the place where it needs to be delivered. The parcel then reaches the post office where the farmer stays, followed by a postman delivering the parcel at the farmer’s doorstep. The farmer pays the total amount of the product the postman, which is further passed on by the postal department to the company supplying the product.
“Those farmers who stay near urban areas can buy from cities but farmers from villages have to depend on krishi kendras. So this kind of e-commerce platform is beneficial for the farmers residing in remote villages. We get a number of orders booked for places like Parbhani, Osmanabad, Hingoli, Pandharpur, Marathwada region and so on,” said Sawaleshwarkar.
Ritesh Alladwar, business head of Agrostar, a Pune-based firm which is an e-commerce platform that provides agricultural products in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, said that the firm started operations in Maharashtra in July 2015 and since then, the growth has been considerable. Agrostar, he said, gets orders from farmers from across the state, including marginal landholding farmers of Vidarbha and Marathwada. Talking about the reason of the concept clicking with the farmers, he added, “We observed that in the current supply channels, farmers are not getting the right solution. That’s why, a platform like Agrostar, which is solution-driven, clicks with the farmers. Around 30 per cent of the calls that we receive are query-based but even these callers end up buying the product. The reason farmers opt for this platform is because there is no middleman involved; easy availability of products; fair price; genuine products; after-sale service and so on.”