With India going into a nationwide lockdown since 24th March due to COVID19 pandemic, the country’s organic food supply chain is struggling with multiple challenges. Most critical being logistics, manpower shortage, and depleting stocks of items. In some cases, out-of-reach seed banks which will determine what we reap in the coming season. Despite these serious challenges, Bhoomi Ka supported retail partners are striving hard to keep their respective supply chains operational with minimal on and off work force in the field.
“Due to the pandemic, our team size has come down to almost 40 percent of its usual strength. It is difficult for us to keep the supply chain running,” says Monika Dhaka, founder of Prasuk Organics. With reduced team size she is working shoulder-to-shoulder with her operations team. Prasuk Organics is committed to their work and is always ahead of the curve.
Prasuk Organics, which operates from Gurugram, is ensuring doorstep delivery of perishable items such as organic fruits and vegetables since 30th March, 2020 to their consumers in Delhi, and Gurugram and Noida in the National Capital Region (NCR). During this period, with restrictions on the movement of general public due to the lockdown their demand has also substantially increased. From an earlier count of 2000 active customers, the number has now increased to almost 4000. However, with reduced team strength they are facing difficulty in smooth functioning of the supply chain. They have taken all appropriate measures related to hygiene and food handling to keep the coronavirus at bay. However, Monika Dhaka is now particularly concerned about the coming months as her vegetable farms await sowing for next season.
Another retail partner of Bhoomi Ka, Eat Right Basket is operating out of Noida with its customer base across Delhi. They opened their office four days after the national lockdown was announced to plan on how they could still serve their consumers with essential organic food during the pandemic. A major challenge for them was when their organic farm produce suppliers from Etawah, Bulandshahar and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh was unable to send the supplies due to non-operational train supply line.
Fresh organic vegetables being collected at the farm of Eat Right Basket in Lalitpur, UP.
Eat Right Basket is now partially bridging the gap by hiring special transportation facilities. Perishable food items are being picked up twice or thrice a week from the farms in Lalitpur and are brought back to Noida. Although procurement cost has increased almost twice, their customers continue to get supplies at market rate. Jyoti Awasthi, founder of Eat Right Basket says that they are absorbing losses to retain their growing customer base. As a result of lockdown and fear around health, they are getting orders from new customers almost every day
A delivery van of Eat Right Basket getting ready to cater to the orders received online.
Millets For Health, an active Bhoomi Ka retailer has started delivering millet based products in Noida. They are also delivering packets of sprouted Ragi (finger millets) through Amazon e-commerce portal. However, lack of awareness about millets has led to certain unusual challenges that are being faced by them. Pallavi Upadhaya, founder of Millets For Health feels lack of awareness among people about millets is still a very big challenge for her. This has also led her delivery team to face scrutiny on different occasions while delivering orders.
The silver lining for Bhoomi Ka during the pandemic is the consumer base for sustainable safe and organic products are gradually increasing. Bhoomi Ka retail partners feel that they are up against the wall but are constantly evaluating the situation and are taking appropriate measures to keep the supply chain functional by making optimum use of available resources.