Agri Business

There is enough produce, supply chain is the problem, say suppliers

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on March 26, 2020 Published on March 26, 2020

People buy essential commodities from a market in Mumbai amid lock-down to fight against the Covid-19.   -  Paul Noronha

Situation expected to improve as State governments issue passes for vehicles transporting essential goods

The supply of essentials such as groceries and vegetables is set to ease gradually over the next few days as States have started issuing passes for the movement of vehicles carrying food items.

States such as Karnataka, West Bengal and Delhi have started issuing passes for vehicles and people involved in essential services since Wednesday. Gujarat has ordered APMCs in the State to resume auctions for agri-commodities including grains and pulses, while Karnataka has allowed grocers and supermarkets to remain open 24 hours a day.

The 21-day nationwide lock-down had led to panic buying from Tuesday night, resulting in a spike in prices of mostly perishables. The Centre has been maintaining that there are enough food stocks in the country. However, the supplies have been disrupted due to the curbs on movement of vehicles carrying vegetables. Even if loaded vehicle are allowed to move around, the drivers face problems while returning post delivery with empty vehicles, suppliers said.

Online deliveries

Tech-enabled organised suppliers of fruit and vegetables, such as Ninjacart and Waycool, expect the supply chain to normalise soon. On Tuesday, Ninjacart, a large supplier of perishables handling daily volumes of around 1,200 tonnes of fruits and vegetables, could maintain supplies in cities such as Chennai and Bengaluru, said Thirukumaran Nagarajan, CEO.

“The Bengaluru police has issued about 4,000 passes for our employees and vehicles, through which we have been able to procure vegetables from farmers and supply them in cities,” he said. However, bottlenecks remain at State borders, which need to be resolved for smooth inter-State movement of vehicles carrying essentials.

Ninjacart procures fruits and vegetables from over 165 collection centres across the country, to deliver them to grocers in large cities including Pune and Delhi.

Nagarajan said the lock-down has forced many farmers to sell their produce at the farm gates. “There is a surge in the number of farmers selling to us at our procurement centres and we are purchasing on a first-come-first-serve basis,” he said.

“There is no supply issue per se. It is only a supply chain issue. We anticipate the situation to ease in a day or two,” said Karthik Jayaraman, who is part of the founding team of Waycool Foods and Products.

Waycool operates 45-50 hubs, largely in South of India, purchasing fruits and vegetables from 5,000-6,000 farmers at any point in time, handling volumes of about 250 tonnes a day.

Demand for bread, milk and meat

In the markets of Kolkata, some vegetables like leafy greens and cauliflower saw a spike in price, while others like potato and tomato are largely stable. Stocks are low due to panic buying, but market committees are assuring people they will be replenished in the coming days. Miking is being done across localities to raise awareness against hoarding.

Some essentials like milk and bread are in short supply in select markets of Kolkata, but assurances are being given of increasing supplies over the next few days. “The problem is many people who supply the bread to stores or are making the bread at factories are back home. Hence, supplies are short,” a retailer said.

Fish, across major markets, remains in short supply. Mostly fresh water fish is available. The price of rohu (among the widely consumed fishes of the State) is ₹250-400/kg (20-50 per cent jump) depending on the demand in local markets.

“No new fish stock are coming in from places like Andhra Pradesh. Plus, major wholesale fish markets along the city fringes have very few sellers. Local train are suspended, too, so people are not bringing in new stock,” a fish vendor said.

(With inputs from Abhishek Law in Kolkata and Rahul Wadke in Mumbai)

Published on March 26, 2020

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.