Itc E-Choupal Itc

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E-CHOUPAL: ITC’S RURAL NETWORKING PROJECT* I. Abstract

In Hindi (an Indian language spoken in most parts of Northern and Central India), a choupal is a village gathering place. The e-choupal initiative—whereby a choupal is equipped with a computer and Internet connectivity—is the brainchild of a large agricultural processing company in India, the Indian Tobacco Company (ITC). The initiative was conceived to tackle the challenges posed by certain features of Indian agriculture, such as fragmented farms, a weak infrastructure, and the involvement of numerous intermediaries. Although the primary objective of the project was to bring efficiency to ITC’s procurement process, an important byproduct is the increased empowerment of rural farmers where e-choupals have been established. The e-choupal initiative directly links the rural farmers with the company for the procurement of agriculture and aquaculture products, such as soybeans, coffee, and prawns. Traditionally, these commodities were procured by such companies as ITC from mandis (major agricultural marketing centers in rural areas of India), and a long chain of intermediaries was involved in buying the produce from farmers and moving it to the mandis. Through e-choupals, these farmers can directly negotiate the sale of their produce with ITC. The PCs and Internet access at these centers enable the farmers to obtain information on mandi prices and good farming practices, and to place orders for agricultural inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers. This access to information helps farmers in improving the quality of produce and obtaining better prices. Elected from the village itself, a literate farmer acts as the interface between the illiterate farmers and the computer. The e-choupal model has been effective in the short term. However, because of multiple variables that affect productivity, a long-term assessment of the system’s productivity and efficiency levels needs to be undertaken. II. Background

The ITC



References: Assisi, Charles, and Indrajit Gupta. “ITC’s Rural Symphony.” Businessworld, January 20, 2003. Deveshwar, Y.C. (Chairman of ITC, the Indian Tobacco Company). 2002. “ITC to Connect One-Sixth of India through e-Choupals.” Express Computer, December 23, 2002. URL: . Web Links Indian Tobacco Company, Website. URL: . ITC-IBD (International Business Division of the Indian Tobacco Company), e-Choupal Website. URL: http://www.echoupal.com Reuters. “ITC Expands e-Choupal.” URL: . Srivastav, Suvira. 2002. “Green Revolution with a Difference.” Terragreen: News to Save the Earth, June 30. Website. URL: . World Resources Institute. 2001. “Quick Look at ITC Ltd’s e-Choupals: Backward Integration as a Forward-Looking Strategy for India’s Rural Markets.” Digital Dividend. Website. URL: . 3 Source: Deveshwar, Y. C. 2002. “ITC to Connect One-Sixth of India through E-Choupals,” Express Computer, December 23, 2002. URL: . 6

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