After traders and retailers, it’s time for farmers in Maharashtra to embrace the e-commerce platform to maximise their direct reach to customers. While mango farmers have tasted the sweet success of e-tailing for some years now, the grape growers in the state too have joined in this year.
For the Devgad taluka Mango Growers Cooperative Society Limited (Devgad Mango), the present season would be the fifth consecutive year when they would be accepting orders online.
Omkar Sapre, advisor to the chief marketing officer of the Society, says they have been exploring the e-commerce way since 2011. “Back in those days, we tried to experiment with e-commerce following the boom the sector had witnessed. We ran a trial for two weeks only for Pune and Mumbai. Much to our surprise, it was well received by the market,” he said.
In 2011, Devgad Mango managed an online sale worth Rs 5 lakh and introduced concepts like cash against pick-up and replacement guarantee. In 2012 and 2013, it registered online sales worth Rs 11 lakh and Rs 15 lakh, respectively.
Since then, Sapre said, they have covered more cities and learned more from their hands-on experience. “Initially, we faced problems like defective design of boxes, early ripening of mangoes in transit. But by experimenting with various designs and material, we managed to solve them,” he said.
In 2014, the company registered online sales worth Rs 42 lakh and also started delivering consignments to all the metro cities.
Last year, Sapre said, they had delivered online orders worth Rs 42 lakh and reached out to 28 cities. This year, he said, they have set a target of over Rs 1 crore through online sales in 40 cities. “For the current season, the delivery would start from March 15. We are targetting 40 cities.”
Following suit are the grapes growers from Nashik, who are aiming to strike it big on the e-commerce this year. Under the brand name of Bestgrapes, Samir Pandit and 12 other farmers from Nashik are promoting the fruit. This would be the second year of their initiative. Last year, 3,000 kgs of grapes were sold online. Pandit says their grapes are export quality and have got all the necessary certification. “Grapes would be supplied across the country by air and the whole process of packing and sorting has minimum human touch,” he says.
Pandit says they are planning to sell over 1 lakh kgs of grapes through the online platform this year. Other than supplying grapes to exporters, Pandit and other growers are also exploring retail options in other countries for export.
Till now, 800 containers of grapes have left from Maharashtra to Europe. Manikrao Patil, secretary of the Nashik Grape Growers Association, says the consignments have started going from January 15. “We are expecting 25 per cent more trade to Europe due to the delay in arrival of Chilliean grapes,” he says.