Jul 28, 2008

Business - Branded vegetables in High tech carts

For the urban population in Uttar Pradesh, buying vegetables will soon turn out to be a new experience. Branded organic leafy and non leafy vegetables from a hi-tech air-conditioned push-cart will soon be available at their doorstep.
The Uttar Pradesh Agricultural Produce Marketing Board or Mandi Parishad, is keen on joining hands with the IIM-Ahmedabad whizkid from Bihar, Kaushalendra Prasad to work out a strategy to start off a new venture of selling branded organic veggies in five to six cities in the state on a pilot basis.
Prasad— a 2007 batch topper of IIM, Ahmedabad— who became a vegetable vendor by choice, is already working wonders with the rural agri economy of Bihar, with his hi-tech air-conditioned pushcart.
His highly successful private-public partnership venture, named Samriddhi which he launched less than six months back with assistance from Agriculture Technology Management Agency, has all the backward linkages in place, right from the 300-odd farmers that he has successfully roped in, to the roadside vendors.
It is these linkages of Kaushalendra’s project that Mandi Parishad wants to tap, along with its own forward linkages — branding and marketing. “We are trying to work out a partnership, wherein everyone will be in a win-win situation: the farmer, the vendor and even the customer,”said Rajesh Kumar Singh, director Mandi Parishad adding, "even if marginally, we want the farmers to benefit."
Stating that the project is still in a nascent stage, Singh said, “We have asked Kaushalendra to submit a business plan on how he proposes to replicate his project in UP and how he plans to establish a link between the agri-rich rural producers and the supply starved yet quality conscious urban populace". The private-public partnership venture, launched with the Agriculture Technology Management Agency Patna, in February this year, now has 50 carts plying in various localities. With each pushcart costing around Rs 50,000, the B-school topper is already earning Rs 3 lakh every month.
Kaushlendra planning to hit global markets by 2020 is targeting a revenue of over Rs 20,000 crore. “I plan to buy more carts to spread the business. This is just the beginning. My venture will spread in the entire country in the years to follow,” he said. “Already, we have started getting trade inquiries from faraway states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and New Delhi,” he added.
Mandi Parishad is already into selling branded mangoes and potatoes by the names of Nawab and Taj, respectively, but selling greens is an area it has not ventured into yet.
Meanwhile, Kaushalendra’s also aims to propagate organic farming and reach markets not only in India but also abroad, so that the farmers fetch good returns for their produce.

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