ITC plans 30 rural malls; 2nd phase of e-choupal in 2006, by Mohan Padmanabhan

Monday, June 20, 2005

Having successfully established the country’s first private sector rural mall, ITC Ltd plans to open 30 more such malls in 2005-06, in synergy with its fast growing e-choupal network.

ITC’s rural mall – Choupal Sagar – is at Sehore in Madhya Pradesh.

The construction of nine malls is nearing completion (three each in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh). They may be opened within the next few months.

The Sehore mall, housed in 5 acres of land, has a warehouse space of 10,000 sq ft, besides space for storing 10,000 tonnes of grains, with support facilities such as fuel station, food court and training centre. Each mall, on an average, will cost Rs 5 crore.

Sehore Choupal Sagar is manned by 15 people – six employed by ITC and nine outsourced by Samyojak, a village level co-ordinator. The e-choupals are operated by Sanchalaks or supervisors appointed by ITC.

Talking to Business Line on the current year’s strategies for leveraging ITC’s agri-sourcing capabilities to support the company’s branded packaged foods business, Mr S. Sivakumar, Chief Executive, Agri Businesses, ITC, said, once dry bulk grains (such as wheat and soya) sourced mainly from UP, M.P., Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh get saturated, the company plans to move into horticulture products through pilots – the second avatar of the e-choupal network sometime in 2006.

He said research for such e-choupal networks had begun. A deeper penetration into the rural areas is required for the second phase of the farm-based Internet intervention.
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Source: The Hindu Business Line