ITC’s thrust in crop chain clusters to benefit farmers in 21 states

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) ITC Chairman Sanjiv Puri said on Monday that the company is scaling up operations in 24 crop value chain clusters where it expects to empower almost a million farmers.

Addressing a press conference, Puri said that ITC expects to support nearly 3,000 FPOs with more than a million farmers across 24 crop value chain clusters in 21 states, shaping competitive agri value-chains and enhancing farmers’ incomes.

This will include upgrading quality and water security, besides providing a competitive advantage for the food business of ITC, Puri said.

These value chains will be anchored by ITC’s large investments in food processing, brands as well as exports. Some of these value chains will include wheat, potato, chili and fruits and vegetables through a crop value chain cluster model to connect small farmers to markets.

ITC’s agri-business lends distinctive competitive advantage to its branded packaged food businesses with superior agri-sourcing that focuses on identity preservation, traceability and certification, as well as lower transaction costs.

ITC is one of India’s largest integrated agri business enterprises with a segment revenue of over Rs 10,200 crore. It is also a significant exporter of value-added agro-products and the largest procurer of wheat in the private sector.

Puri said ITC sources over 3 million tonnes of agri-products from 225 districts in 22 states, adding that agriculture is a very important area for ITC and is especially important for sustaining livelihoods.

Puri further said that going digital will be a major thrust area for ITC. He said ITC is now ready to implement e-Choupal 4.0 and bring the benefits of the digital revolution to empower farmers even more effectively.

This digital platform, designed as a crop agnostic integrated solution framework, will synergistically aggregate technologies like remote sensing, precision farming, drone-based services, quality assaying, e-marketplace and many others.

“It will empower 10 million farmers in India multiplying livelihoods that will benefit over 50 million people,” Puri said.

Puri also clarified that there are no major restructuring proposals as of now. He said that for hotels, ITC will examine alternative structures and even that is an exploratory exercise. ITC will go with an asset-right strategy for the hotel business.

He clarified that tools like buybacks are available and will depend on opportune timing and opportunity. He said the board decision will be to create enduring value for all the stakeholders.

As the pandemic situation is still evolving, ITC believes that it is important to conserve cash at this point in time. The lifestyle retail business already has few stores that are open and may shrink further as it has not scaled up as per expectations, Puri said.

He added that there will be some trends that will sustain or ebb in the ‘new normal’ now and the ‘next normal’ after the pandemic is over.

–IANS

san/arm