This e-auction portal gets farmers better prices, and even helps cart their produce!

Distinctly different from other digital initiatives, the new e-auction portal, e-RaKAM, launched jointly by the Kolkata-based MSTC Ltd and Central Railside Warehousing Company (CRWC) Ltd, in New Delhi, will not only help farmers get reasonable price for their produce, but also save them the effort of carting the produce to the mandi.

CWRC, a subsidiary of the Central Warehousing Corporation Ltd, will provide logistics support for sellers and buyers in case they need it.

The initiative builds on MSTC’s earlier experience in providing support to farmers in the North-Eastern States to sell their produce in other parts of the country.

“Our office in Guwahati has been helping farmers’ cooperatives in the North-East sell produce like ginger, pineapple, hill grass and black pepper during the past one year,” said MSTC Chairman and Managing Director BB Singh.

Talks with retailers

“We are in talks with fruits and vegetable retailers like Mother Dairy and Grofers and are encouraging them to participate in our e-auction to procure fruits and vegetables from the North-East. Some of them have shown interest,” Singh said. “We are confident that we can eliminate many layers of middlemen through this online auction process and thus help deliver better price to farmers for their produce,” he said.

The challenge, however, is that vendors want the produce to be delivered to their retail shops in different parts of a city or region.

That requires micro-managing of logistics, he said.

For instance, Mother Dairy was keen to bid in an e-auction for pineapples from the North-East, but wanted them delivered at its 150 outlets across Delhi, Singh added.

Other auction plans

Apart from perishable commodities, e-RaKAM plans to get into online auction of other agricultural produce like cereals, pulses and oilseeds. “In fact, our maiden e-auction – which is still to get final approval – was for pulses that are lying in the warehouses of NAFED. NAFED has a total of 20 lakh tonnes of pulses to be sold off. For a start, we have been able to auction a small quantity of pulses,” Singh said. “This is the first-ever widespread e-market platform for Indian farmers, who have been trapped in a vicious cycle of intermediaries and low margin,” said CRWC Managing Director KU Thankachen. Talks were on with various State governments that have shown an interest in transferring a part of their procurement to e-RaKAM, he said.

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