Ecommerce, once associated with the new Indian middle class, is starting to filter down to more rural areas of the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched eNAM, the National Agriculture Market, on April 14th, the Sikh new year and a harvest celebration in the Punjab region. eNAM integrates 21 farmer’s markets, or mandis, across eight states, with over 500 more expected to be added by 2018. The platform will also allow farmers to sell their products directly online, as well as at their local mandi.
Unfortunately, however, lack of Internet access may potentially dampen the government’s hopes for eNAM, according to Madhuchandan C., founder of Mandya Organic Farmers Cooperative Society. 4G network coverage is currently confined to the major metropolitan areas in India. The lack of an independent third party to verify claims made by sellers could also be a problem. Anurag Awasthi, the founder of SaveIndianGrain.org, says that “Since these are perishable commodities in massive volumes, it is essential to have an accredited agency with no vested interest with that particular manufacturer. In India, each State has different laws; so there is no common platform to decide quality or price. We need an independent agency with uniform standards across the States.”
Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, handloom societies have made tentative steps towards ebusiness. Five of the state’s 180 handloom societies, which make products such as bedspreads and towels, have adopted ecommerce technology to help sell their wares. The Office of Handlooms is overseeing the collaboration between handloom societies and recognised ecommerce providers to help them sell their products under their own brand names.
The Union Textiles Ministry has also launched an ecommerce platform for handloom societies. Official sources anticipate that the site will help sell handloom products to a younger demographic.