ITC, the country’s leading FMCG and hospitality sector major, seeks to complete its Choupal Sagar project by Khraif season in 2009. The project that involves setting up 45 Choupal Sagars across Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, faces a delay of approximately 18 months, as presently only 24 Choupal Sagars are operational across the three states.
There are 11 Choupal Sagars in Madhya Pradesh, five in Maharashtra and eight in Uttar Pradesh.
Functioning in accordance with a hub-and-spoke model, a Choupal Sagar is a rural shopping mall where farmers can sell their commodities and can buy almost everything including cosmetics, garments, electronics, appliances and even tractors. Further, the Choupal Sagar offers telemedicine facilities for which the company has tied up with various reputed medical groups.
“We are in the process of acquiring land and constructing them at once at the projected investment,” S Sivakumar, ITC’s Chief Executive (agri business division) told Business Standard.
He attributed the delay to the Beijing Olympics which created a huge global demand for construction raw material. The pace of agriculture reforms particularly pertaining to the Essential Commodity Act and Forward Contract Act, affected the project.
“Now we have a breather as the Beijing Olympics is over and prices of cement and iron have come down,” he said adding, “we expect the Choupal Sagar project to be completed in all the three states by August 2009.
ITC had launched its first Choupal Sagar a few years back at Rafiqganj, a small village near Sehore town in Madhya Pradesh. The company has also plans to expand its commodity portfolio at the Choupal Sagar. “Sourcing of commodities is a major component at Choupal Sagar, we are planning to add fruits, potatoes, vegetables and fruits soon,” Sivakumar said.
The company now plans to launch the remaining Choupal Sagars at one go instead of going in a phased manner. Interestingly, it has maintained the estimated investment of Rs 8 crore in each Choupal Sagar.