Farmers around the world have been turning to e-procurement solutions to keep their operations going in the face of COVID-19 restrictions.
One of the big challenges of restrictions and lockdowns around the world in 2020 has been supply chain management – and farmers have felt the bite with difficulty or flat out inability to transport their crops to consumers.
That has led many countries to welcome digital procurement measures to save their crops and livelihood – including India and its population of 1.3 billion people.
India has been massively impacted by COVID-19. As of June 10, the Asian nation had 266,598 confirmed cases and had endured 7471 deaths.
Ensuring people remained fed meant decades and centuries of traditional farming and delivery services would have to be reassessed.
The state of Haryana has over 800,000 wheat and grain farmers alone and is a critical food bowl for the people of India, so a digitised solution needed to be created.
A state-owned procurement agency was established and farmers were texted advising the farmers of the arrival time of government transports, the weight of product required, the value and payment details.
Farmers had their bank accounts linked to the government procurement portal which meant they avoided financial wipeout while their produce (wheat, gram and mustard) continued to reach the people that desperately needed it.
While India and many other nations have been forced into e-procurement because of the global pandemic, it does present a case study of how this system is hugely beneficial for farmers and retailers alike.
Farmers tend to run on low margins and rely on high-volume, consistent operations to make a profit. COVID-19 is not the only challenge that has ever faced the agricultural sector, with weather, pests, disease and fire omnipresent threats.
Couple those with rising operational costs, the price of water and customers that want the cheapest products possible, it becomes clear the struggle farmers are facing all over the world.
Firstly, farmers would be able to have a stable sale chain through a centralised platform. They would know precisely when their product was being collected, the market value, how much they are being paid and when they could link their accounts to make it a seamless process.
And secondly, they could prevent downtime that could eat into their already lean margins enormously.
By having an automated system of selling, as well as buying, including managing spare parts and consumables for all farm vehicles, machinery and electronics, farmers can be assured of always having these parts on hand.
Creating a co-operative environment where partnering with other farmers in their community could also drive aggregation and ensure more competitive pricing from suppliers.
More than ever in the trying times we are faced with, we need to be looking at creative means where we can drive community mindset and also focus on doing business better, which could include collaboration and partnering through an e-procurement marketplace.
E-procurement platforms in the ag sector can lend to maximising buying efficiencies, through a dynamic portal where farmers and suppliers are registered on.
With COVID-19 continuing to change farming and agricultural operations around the world, it could be only a matter of time before e-procurement becomes the norm.