Friday, October 23, 2009

What is an e-Choupal ? How is it useful to farmers?

Ans. An e-Choupal (External website that opens in a new window) is a service offered to farmers by ITC to help them work their way around market intermediaries and weak infrastructure. It is basically a computer with internet facility that allows users to access the e-Choupal website run by ITC. A local farmer acting as a coordinator or 'Sanchalak' runs this amenity. He receives a small commission from farmers who wish to use this facility. A local commission agent or 'Samyojak' assists the Sanchalak by providing logistical support.
Farmers use the computer to access daily closing prices of local mandis, international prices as well as details about new farming techniques. The computer at the e-Choupal may also be utilized for ordering seed, fertilizers and other products from ITC or its partners at discounted prices. During the harvest season, ITC proposes to buy the crop directly from farmers at the previous day's closing price. If the farmers agree, their crop is transported to an ITC processing centre, where it is weighed, assessed and paid for. Farmers who sell through e-Choupals usually receive a higher price for their produce than those who use the traditional mandi system.
Each e-Choupal costs between US$3,000 and US$6,000 to set up and around US$100 annually for maintenance. They usually serve an average of 600 farmers within a five km radius. Today, the e-Choupal network reaches more than 3.5 million farmers producing a range of commodities such as soybean, coffee, wheat, rice, pulses and shrimp. There are currently 5,200 e-Choupals in six States - Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team

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