SOLV Partners with Akshay Patra Foundation, Helps in Uninterrupted Supply of Essential Goods Sourcing & Delivery

Bangalore, April 29, 2020:  SOLV, a B2B digital platform for MSMEs backed by the Standard Chartered Group, announced its partnership with Bangalore-based NGO Akshay Patra Foundation to connect Akshay Patra, to robust network of MSMEs on SOLV’s platform, engaged in supplying essential goods. The partnership will not only ensure smooth delivery of supplies to the foundation’s kitchens but also help sustain several kirana stores & small businesses engaged in manufacturing and distribution of essential food supplies.

With the partnership, SOLV is helping Akshay Patra during the current Covid-19 lockdown with sourcing materials for their Covid-19 Relief Feeding Program which aims to support the needy with 1 crore cooked meals and 5 lakh packaged grocery kits. Going forward, SOLV also aims to source and deliver raw materials for the foundation’s flagship mid-day meal scheme that provides fresh nutritious meals every school day to children in government schools and government-aided schools.

Akshay Patra first collaborated with SOLV during the start of the current Covid-19 nation-wide lockdown when there was an unprecedented disruption created in inventory and raw materials supply-chain for its kitchens to sustain ongoing programs. SOLV was able to leverage its network of hundreds of MSMEs as well as its logistics partners to source and deliver 300+ metric tonnes of raw materials to Akshay Patra within 2 days. This initial success and experience led to the forging of a longer term partnership for SOLV to support Akshay Patra with its supply-chain services and sourcing partners.

Commenting on the partnership, Nitin Mittal, CEO and Founder, SOLV, said, “SOLV has continuously been working with our MSME and delivery partners to maintain uninterrupted supply of essentials to NGOs, kiranas, small hospitals and others during the lockdown crisis. We are very pleased to partner with and support an NGO like Akshay Patra Foundation to ensure they can continue with their programs during this situation and after, without worrying about supply-chain interruptions or disruptions.”

“SOLV not only helped us keep our supply-chain operational when the COVID19 outbreak led to unavailability of essential supplies, but also demonstrated reliability and on-time delivery with excellent sourcing support, crucial in times of crisis like these.” said Vishwas Ujire, Head- Food Procurement, Akshay Patra Foundation. “We look forward to continuing this successful association with SOLV as we expand the reach of our flagship programs across the country.”

During the current crisis being faced by the SME sector due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, SOLV is playing a critical role by leveraging its B2B commerce platform for SMEs in new ways. SOLV is using the strength of MSME network and resources on its platform; connecting sourcing units like tier 2 manufacturers and villages on the one hand and delivery channels on the other, to deliver essential goods to kiranas, RWAs, NGOs and small hospitals. 

COVID-19 oubreak: Impact on HORECA segment

By Nitin Mittal – Founder & CEO, SOLV

Covid19 outbreak led shut-downs are having disastrous impact on economies around the world, including India. Small and medium businesses are the worst hit segment and among them the most impacted are the ones in travel, tourism and entertainment. With more than 1.3 bn people confined to their home in India, the HORECA sement which relies on the very premise of discretionary spends, business travels and people ‘socializing’ is strugging to survive.

Current scenario

With occupancies crashing to below 5% in comparison to 95% last year, hospitality industry is the worst hit.

Hotels, restaurants and cafes are capex heavy businesses, with high fixed costs like rents that comprise of almost 60% of the cost. Hospitality industry often witnesses 70% to 100% occupancy by the end of the February in India, however, this year, with the outbreak accelerating, the occupancy has gone down to a minimum. This is leading to hotels towards a shutdown or to operate in a very limited cash-crunched manner.

Dominoes Effect of Impact on HORECA Segment on other sectors

High-value food commodities (HVCs), such as milk, fruits and vegetables, and meat, fish and eggs, account for 56% of the total value of output from agriculture and allied sectors. Prices of agricultural and high value commodities have fallen by more than 20% since bulk demand from HORECA has plumetted and export scenario is uncertain.

With rumors around consumption of poultry and other livestock and hotels & restraunts cancelling orders, their breeding has hit a major roadblock too.

Firefighting the Trend

Hotel chains like Oyo are partnering with embassies to accomodate foreign traveller stuck in India, to ensure occupancy. Restaurants are reworking their menus, operating on delivery & takeaway models only, operating with limited set of chefs since most restaurant staff comprises of migrant workers especially in Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore.

Expectations from the Government

  • The industry is looking for support to survive, in the form of pushing back of instalment repayment, support in paying salaries to the staff and waivers in government levies such as tax, ESIC, bank guarantees, security deposits, etc.
  • Rental renogiations basis state level mandates are sought
  • Doubling of working capital limits on interest free and collateral free terms will also be helpful in preventing businesses from going bankrupt.
  • FAITH has sought a support fund for 12 months on the lines of MNREGA to support basic salaries with direct transfers to affected tourism employees.
  • There’s also a demand of setting up of a national tourism task force under PM’s leadership to fast track all tourism investment proposals and to withhold the tax collected at source (TCS) on travel provision proposed in Finance Bill 2020 as TCS on travel will displace business from India to overseas markets.
  • CII’s recommendations include release of SEIS and EPCG schemes on an urgent basis based on last year’s submissions of foreign exchange earnings of companies at an enhanced rate of 10%
  • Doubling the overdraft facility for the industry and provision of short term interest free or low interest loans for rebuilding businesses.

COVID-19: The Aftermath

The HORECA segment will have to create solutions to revive itself in a world that has become inward-looking and is following social distancing.

  • Health checks: To tackle the fear in the minds of employees and guests, the industry will have to conduct their health check-ups. Ramping up the health screening of guests and employees is necessary and must be diligently followed.
  • Better sanitization: In order to minimize any risk, the industry will have to offer better air quality, better sanitization solutions, food-grade chemical sourcing to sanitize deliveries & takeaways etc. Also, hotels need to issue personal protective gear and eadequate sanitization.
  • Sustainability and Self-sufficiency: Not only should the focus shift to food with higher shelf life to reduce shortages due to lack of supply chain capability; but also, there’s a need to create higher self-sufficiency by owning farms for constant supply of fresh vegetables and fruits or connect to ecosystem players that aggregate farm level stock and data
  • Healthcare specialist: Onboarding a healthcare specialist or partnering with a medical practitioner to offer quality healthcare solutions to guests should be looked at.
  • Space out workstations: Create workstations on either side of processing lines so that food workers are not facing one another

In the times of COVID-19, people will be sceptical of the quality of fresh-food products/ handling of cooked food. Therefore, ensuring food safety and communicating it to the customer would be of paramount importance.

Originally published here .

Covid-19 impact: Sale of mobiles out of range

The nationwide lock down announced on March 25 also marked a lockdown on annual profits of companies in the mobile and electronics sector. The sales have plummeted owing to the closure of electronics stores pan India. Ecommerce sales via retailers such as Amazon and Flipkart are in no good shape either, as these online platforms have temporarily suspended the sales of white goods and mobiles and are solely focused on essential goods. The electronics and mobile industry is looking at an annual decline of 25-30% in business.

China shutdowns hit Indian mobile companies

China accounts for 85% of total value of components used in smartphones, such as mobile displays, circuit boards, etc. From April to December 2019, India imported telecom accessories worth $4.5 billion from China which accounted for 40% of India’s total imports.

As the Coronavirus outbreak hit China, vendors hiked component prices by 2-3% due to supply shortage after closure of factories. The mobile market in India had started getting impacted due to the situation in China, even before the epidemic hit India.

The slowing Chinese economy could have been a shining opportunity for Indian exporters to supply more goods to the global market. However, Indian telecom accessory manufacturers could not make use of this opportunity, because of their dependence on inputs from China.

Plunging sales of smartphones in India

India’s smartphone market recorded 46.6 million units sold in 3Q19 (IDC India Report), however, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, smartphone brands are dealing with dipping sales. Also, India’s contribution to global smartphone production had jumped to 16% from 9% in 2016 owing to the US-China trade war. However, in the current scenario, manufacturing units have halted the production of mobiles and it is speculated that India’s share in global smartphone production will fall to the levels that were prevalent four years ago as organic growth will be bleak, and consumers will only buy a phone out of necessity or basis their spending ability.

Sales slowdown, supply chain squeeze and cashflow crunch have resulted in loss of approximately 50% of the electronics and mobile business on an average, over the same period last year.

The hit of custom duty

In Feb 2020, the government announced increasing customs duty by 5-10% on imported mobiles and chargers. While industry observers stated that the hike in import duty won’t impact consumers, since 97% of mobile market demand is being met through domestic production, the reality was different.

In an interaction with Karol Bagh Market Association members, SOLV found that there was a lot of angst on this issue. Since the manufacturing of mobile and accessories is not happening at the same scale as in China, sales in India have dipped. The cost of procurement of mobile parts and office infrastructure is thus being passed on to the customer, thereby making the product further expensive and leading to adverse impact on sales.

Moreover, mobile phones were earlier exempted from the 10% service welfare cess, but it will now be re-imposed on imported handsets over and above existing 20% basic customs duty.

Stay home, stay connected?

  • The lockdown led to closure of all educational institutions and offices. While schools have shifted to virtual classes, offices have shifted to virtual meetings. However, everyone has adequate hardware needed for participation in virtual classrooms or meeting rooms.
  • Given that many people are not stepping out of their homes, and ordering home delivery of essentials through online grocers, mobile phones have become vital in this lockdown period. And with mobiles not being considered as essential goods, it would imply that those who don’t already have one, can’t get one, and those who want their mobiles serviced, cannot get that done either.

Mobile phone – an essential?

In a letter written by the India Cellular & Electronics Association (ICEA) on Mar 29, the Prime Minister wase requested to consider the service, maintenance, and delivery of mobiles and ICT (Information and Communications Technology) products as essential, emphasising that mobiles/tablets and other computing devices are critical to proper functioning of crucial government bodies as well as hospitals and the police. ICEA also requested the PM to at least consider the sale of mobiles and computing devices via ecommerce platforms.

Now that the Government of India has also launched AarogyaSetu mobile app to track spread of the Coronavirus, having a functional smartphone becomes a must, which further highlights the importance of mobiles.

Recommendations

  • Mobile phone makers seek rollback of GST increase of 6% with immediate effect as the hike to 18% from 12% would draw out ₹15,000 crore from the ecosystem and devastate the retail sector
  • Correction of the inverted duty structure by bringing down duties on mobile and electronic parts and components is also needed
  • Mobiles should get the essential tag and the government should allow resumption of servicing and sales of existing mobile phone models.

What next – addressing the latency in demand?

To capitalise on pent up demand, mobile phone brands are likely to flood the market with new devices after the restrictions are removed. Though offering discounts in the near-term would be difficult because of the 6% GST hike on mobile phones, it is better to flush the market with aggressive discounts during festivals.

Make in India Investment Schemes

The ministry of electronics and IT has notified three incentives schemes worth ₹48,000 crore for pushing electronics manufacturing.

  1. Production Linked Incentive (PLI): With an outlay of ₹40,000 crore, this scheme will give incentive of 4-6% on incremental sale of mobile phones and specified electronic components, such as Printed Circuit Boards (PCB), photopolymer films and Assembly, Testing, Marking and Packaging (ATMP). It will be applicable from Aug 1.
  2. Electronics Manufacturing Clusters (EMC) 2.0: This scheme is aimed at development of world class infrastructure to help India to become the mobile manufacturing hub in the world. The government has proposed a total outlay of ₹3,762.25 crore.
  3. Electronics Components and Semiconductors (SPECS): This will provide financial incentive of 25% on capital expenditure for select electronic goods, like components, semiconductor/display fabrication units, ATMP units, etc. This scheme also supports expansion of capacity, modernisation and diversification of existing units, and investments in new units.
  4. ₹42,000 crore booster for India’s local mobile manufacturing: This scheme endeavours to integrate India into the global supply chain as China struggles to meet demand with shut operations amid the Coronavirus outbreak. As India’s electronics hardware manufacturing sector suffers due to lack of adequate infrastructure, domestic supply chain and logistics issues, high cost of finance, unavailability of quality power and inadequate design capabilities and skills, this scheme will help in removing these issues besides getting rid of dependence on China.

The bright side: Mobile and accessories import

The quantity and value of mobile phones, including accessories imported by India in the past three years, have witnessed a significant downfall of 64% in quantity and 57% in value due to rise in foreign investment and improved manufacturing capacities. Import of push-button mobile phones came down from $935 million in 2018 to $400 million in 2019; and smartphone import came down to $1216 million in 2019 from $2602 million in 2018.

Evolving state of Indian textile and apparel industry under Covid-19 outbreak’s influence

By Nitin Mittal – Founder & CEO, SOLV

India is the 2nd largest producer of Textiles & Apparel in the world, after China. 

The Textile & Apparel Industry in India is in itself, one of the oldest industries and among the highest in terms of output, investment and employment. The sector today employs 100 million+ people directly & through allied sectors, contributes to 5% of Global trade and earns USD 40 billion+ forex, apart from substantial revenue contribution towards the country’s tax revenues. With direct linkages to the rural economy and the agriculture sector, it is estimated that one in every six households in India is either directly or indirectly dependent on it for livelihoods. 

As the nation is undergoing a COVID-19 scare, there is an evident fall in apparel sale. With the closure of shopping malls and stores due to lockdown imposed by the government, and the focus of people shifting from buying lifestyle products to essentials like food and personal care, India’s apparel sector is witnessing a dip in revenues. This sector is in a crisis which must be managed to sustain it.

Today the growth of the Textile & Apparel segment in India is dependent on 20 Million+ MSMEs.

25% of jobs may be lost in Textiles & Apparels Industry and Millions of Small businesses may shut shop in the next 6 months due to the COVID19 Pandemic 

Grim Situation in South India

South India is famous for its textile industry, especially production.

Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem and Erode in Tamil Nadu, known for this textile belt gobally , generate export revenue of over ₹25,000 crores. Tirupur alone is generates over ₹11,000 crores from more than 10,000 manufacturing units there. In Tamil Nadu there are 4.50 lakh power looms and is the second large to Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu alone represents roughly 45% of India’s entire spinning capability, 22% weaving and 70% of the knitted apparel production capability. Tirupur singlehandedly contributes to almost 50% of total knitted textile and clothing exports, followed by Ludhiana, Kolkata and Delhi NCR.

However, the crisis has brought the production to a grinding halt, because:

–       receivables and new business are affected severely

–       existing orders are getting cancelled or are on hold indefinitely, especially because global trade is yet to begin in the segment again

This has had a massive impact because almost 36% of the produce from Tirupur is exported to Europe and 34% to the US, and the remaining 30% to other parts of the world.

Double Whammy for Offline Stores

As it is the new coronavirus was plummeting sales, the covid-led shutdowns couldn’t have had a worse timinig, with regards to supplies and inventory. For most apparel retailers, the spring summer collection has arrived in stock. Now, with the current scenario – inventory levels are high, and footfalls are zilch – especially at the brick and mortar stores.These businesses are looking for ways and means to reduce the financial strain, which can be done by –

·       managing vendor payment cycles

·       working out the delay in rental pay outs

·       cutting down on extra expenses

Potential Impacts of COVID-19 on the entire Textile & Apparel Industry Value Chain

·       Cotton – Prices are speculated to take a dip

·       Man-Made Fibre – Prices of imported man-made fibre is expected to surge by approx. 30% by Sep 2020 due to China’s production on halt

·       Fabric – Due to decline in exports, the production is expected to decrease

·       Apparel – Due to decline in global demand, the production is speculated to decrease by approx. 18%

·       Yarn – Accounting for 29% of India’s textile trade – the demand and production have taken a hit. Its production is expected to decrease by approx. 15% in the coming quarter

·       Home Textiles – Due to limited or no global contact, this industry has very less impact of downfall triggered by COVID-19. Since, masks, medical gowns and PPE (personal protective equipment) have a high demand, many home textiles companies are pivoting their operations towards PPE production

Online Retailers Holding the Fort 

In comparison to offline stores and malls, fashion ecommerce online stores are operating with an intent to stay connected with their consumers during this tough phase to build stickiness and are also shfting their focus to build a demand pipeline through advance orders.

Manufacturers along with Industry Bodies are Recalibrating Strategies for Utilization of Excess Capacity

Along with majors in the industry like Welspun and re-focussing handloom & khadi industry towards mask production at state level, the governnment and the industry together are coming up with innovative ways to utilize excess capacity while also catering to the urgent demand of WHO recommended critical health protective gear manufacturing.

Policy Recommendations

To protect the textile manufacturers in India from crippling levels of bad debt, what is it that policymakers should do? Broad thoughts below:

·       Direct Wage Support: While the government may not be able to fund the daily wages in every sector, providing textile industry the wage support of ₹5000- ₹7000 per worker for at least one month should be helpful in warding off the problem of layoffs and unemployment to a large extent.

·       GST Refund: The faster way to provide support to a larger group of stakeholders is to refund GST payments made in the last six months. This will cover almost all industries – handloom weavers to shopkeepers and traders. The process has already begun but needs to be speedened to ensure cashflow is available to the micros and small players to sustain themselves, at least for the next 3-6 months. Once the lockdown is lifted, the government could offer a cut on GST rate on all textile products until the industry recovers properly.

·       Incentives for the Export Sector: Given the pandemic, the export will be worst hit, thereby losing further market share. Incentives such as duty drawback on exports made in the previous Financial Year and the current should be considered.

Also interestingly, this is the time peipeline for domestic demand for winter wear that was mostly imported could be sufficed by capacity built by manufacturers in India.

·       Revised credit appraisal lens: Guidelines for loan approval on the basis of credit rating need to be reviewed. Alternate credit lending models for the segment need to be considered seriously in order to fasten credit infusion in the segment.

·       Tax compliance: Given the nationwide shutdown, deadline for taxes should be extended. Also, because of drop in demand, the taxes need to be reviewed to minimise the impact.

·       Benefits to yarn and fabric: Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL), IES and the Merchandise Exports of India Scheme (MEIS) should include cotton yarn and fabrics since the segment supports more than 60% of the textile and apparel segment jobs and more than 80% MSMEs.

·       TReDs compliance for cash-starved businesses: Trade Receivables Discounting System (TReDS) is a digital platform to support micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to get their bills financed at a competitive rate. Up until now, companies with a turnover of greater than ₹500 crore int he segment were mandated to be on the platform. However, the bar should be reduced to cover ₹100-₹250 crore turnover companies too, to protect the interests of smaller suppliers working with them.

Originally published here.

Farming communities feel the pangs of Covid-19 pandemic: Urgent remedial action sought to contain damages

By Nitin Mittal – Founder & CEO, SOLV

While the mustard adds a green-yellow lush to the fields and the wheat turns golden, this harvest season is singing a different tune for the farmers across India. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic led shutdowns, flavours of this Baisakhi and the New year, painfully sown by the farming community have failed to reach us. 

Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about two-thirds of India’s population. Agriculture, forestry and fishing added a Gross Value of ₹18.55 lakh crore in FY19. Now, India is pegging to harvest a record wheat production of 106.21 million tonne in 2019-20, as per the latest government data.

The nation-wide lockdown though has put our farmers in a dilemma.

·       Labour cannot come to reap at such a crucial time of crop harvest and lack of skilled labour is adversely impacting their agricultural operations

·       Farmers are attempting to harvest and thresh the crops on their own to avoid the crop from withering away

·       Storing and selling the produce will also become a problem after harvest

Farmers are now resorting to measures like ‘off-market’ sale or ‘sell-from-farm’, as it will help them manage their funds by –

·       Cutting down on transportation cost

·       Avoiding commission and other labour charges incurred at APMCs

The need of the hour is for the government to urgently introduce a fool-proof strategy to deal with the situation to avoid any further wastage of the harvest crop, likely to shoot-up the country’s food inflation soon.   

Measure currently taken by the government to support farmers are aplenty but lacking in nature of urgency and on-ground implementation & communication of lock-down enforcement. 

·       Exemption of farming operations: The government has exempted farming operations, farm workers, mandis and procurement agencies, sowing-related manufacturing and packaging units of fertilisers, from the lockdown rules.

·       Ensuring safety and hygiene: ICAR, the government’s agri-research body, has asked farmers to practice social distancing and safety precautions on the farm – while handling machines and with labours in the field. In case, the farmers face any issues in managing crops or livestock, they can consult agri-scientists in Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), ICAR research institutes and state agricultural universities.

·       PM Kisan Scheme: Government will transfer ₹2,000 under PM-Kisan scheme to 8.69 crore farmers in April to provide relief to farmers affected due to the coronavirus lockdown. As the farmers already receive ₹6,000 per annum from PM-KISAN, they will now be given the first instalment of that as a front-load in April.

·       Supply chain movement: The home ministry has set some standard operating procedures for delivery of essential services through ecommerce to ensure supply. This includes ration units dealing with food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, milk products. It will help farmers sell their produce, while maintaining the availability of essential goods in the large organised retail stores and e-commerce companies.

About 1,900 wholesale fruit and vegetable mandis have started functioning smoothly after the govt took measures to normalise the supply during the lockdown.

·       Regular monitoring and coordination: Mother Dairy’s Safal vegetable outlets in Delhi, Sufal Bangla retail outlets in Kolkata, Hopcoms retail outlets in Bengaluru and similar outlets in Chennai and Mumbai will monitor the movement of supplies and coordinate with local administration. Control rooms have been set up at mandis to intervene and coordinate with local police, district collector and transport association.

·       Procurement by State Govt: Punjab Agriculture Secretary Kahan Singh Pannu assured farmers that the State government will allow harvesting, and will procure every grain from the market.

Some urgent mitigation mechanisms that can be mobilized by the government

·       There are about 6,900 wholesale mandis in India, including the ones selling grains, vegetables and fruits. Only 1900 of those are operative. It is important to activate most of them during the time of harvest to ensure supply meets demand.

·       Reduction in labour force is affecting production, processing of crops, leading to a loss of income and perishable produce; labor force must be equipped with protection like khadi masks procured from handlooms and incentivized to get back to work

·       Restriction on people’s movement may disrupt distribution too, as seasonal agricultural workers that constitute over 120 million or more are estimated to migrate from rural areas to urban labour markets and farms, are not migrating.

·       Encourage food majors to procure directly from farmers or generation of other means, such as e-Nam to help farmers trade directly.

. Regulations for Ecommerce and logistics players involved in fixing supply chain issues need to be directed from the center and adopted at state-level instead of the district-led calls that are proving to be a deterrent in speedy and hassle-free movement of essential goods.

E-NAM Mandis

To support the off-market selling option, e-NAM is coming across as useful platform.

It is an online trading platform for agricultural commodities in India that facilitate farmers, traders and buyers with online trading and smooth marketing of their produce.

Amid these difficult times of the coronavirus led lockdown & social distancing, National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) is playing a vital role in promoting the agriculture trade across nation. Traders and food majors can procure produce directly from farmers on this e-mandi/platform, ensuring:

·       Social distancing – trading, invoicing and payment, everything takes place online

·       Competitive price for farmers – the selling price is decided by the competition and not by intermediaries

·       Better reach – sellers get better reach to markets across the state

·       Real time information – buyers can get real time information on trade, price and commodities

In order to create awareness about e-NAM platform, organisations such as CSC e-gov, Panchayats, citizen service centres, etc can be leveraged by the government.  

Originally published here.

Views also published in Indore Samachar, dated Apr 7, 2020. Read here.

कृषक समुदाय पर कोविड-19 महामारी का कहर: नुकसान रोकने के फौरी उपायों की माँग

जबकि खेतों में हरी-पीली सरसों झूम रही हैं और गेहूं की बालियाँ पाक कर सुनहरी हो उठी हैं, पूरे भारत में किसानों के लिए इस बार कटाई का मौसम बदला-बदला है। हालांकि, कोविड-19 महामारी के कारण बंदी के चलते किसानों द्वारा बड़े मेहनत बोये अनाज का स्वाद इस बार की बैशाखी में हमें नहीं मिल पाया।

खेती भारत की लगभग दो-तिहाई आबादी के लिए आजीविका का प्राथमिक स्रोत है। वित्तीय साल 2019 में कृषि, वानिकी और मत्स्य पालन से अर्थव्यवस्था में 18.55 लाख करोड़ रुपये की वृद्धि हुयी थी। अगर हम नए सरकारी आंकड़ों को देखें, तो अभी भारत 2019-20 में रिकॉर्ड 106.21 मिलियन टन गेहूं कटाई के लिए तैयार है।

लेकिन देशव्यापी बंदी ने किसानों को दुविधा में डाल रखा है।

  • फसल की कटाई के ऐसे अहम वक्त में मजदूर नहीं मिल सकते और कुशल श्रमिकों की कमी उनके कृषि कार्यों पर प्रतिकूल असर डाल रहे हैं।
  • फसलों के गिरने या मुरझाने से रोकने के लिए किसान खुद ही फसल की कटनी और दौनी की कोशिश कर रहे हैं।
  • फसल कटाई के बाद इसका भंडारण और बिक्री भी एक समस्या बन जाएगी।

ऐसे में, किसान ‘बाजार से बाहर’ बेचने या सीधे ‘खेत से बेचने’ के विकल्प ढूंढ़ रहे हैं, क्योंकि इससे उन्हें कुछ इस तरह अपनी पूंजी के प्रबंधन में मदद मिलेगीः

  • परिवहन लागत में कटौती करना
  • एपीएमसी में किए गए कमीशन और अन्य श्रम शुल्कों से बचना

आगे फसल की बरबादी को रोकने के लिए वक्त की यही मांग है कि सरकार इस स्थिति से निपटने के लिए एक विश्वसनीय रणनीति पेश करे ताकि फसल की आगे बर्बादी और देश में खाद्यान्न की कीमतों में उछाल की आशंका से बचा जा सके। 

किसानों की मदद के लिए सरकार ने कई सारे कदम उठाए हैं, लेकिन इसको लागू करने की तत्परता में कमी है और जमीनी-स्तर पर क्रियान्वयन में कमी है और कमी है देशबंदी के अमल के संवाद में।

  • खेतिहर कामों में छूट :  सरकार ने खेतिहर कामों में छूट दी है। खेतिहर मजदूरों, मंडियों और खरीद एजेंसियों, बुआई से जुड़ी खादों के निर्माण व पैकेजिंग इकाइयों को बंदी के नियमों से मुक्त रखा गया है।
  • सुरक्षा और स्वच्छता सुनिश्चित करना : सरकार का कृषि-शोध संगठन आईसीएआर ने किसानों को खेतों में सामाजिक दूरी और सुरक्षा संबंधी ऐहतियात बरतने को कहा है, मशीन चलाते हुए भी और खेतों में मजदूरों के साथ भी। इन मामलों में किसानों को फसल-प्रबंधन या पशुपालन में कोई दिक्कत होती है, तो वे कृषि विज्ञान केंद्र (केवीके), आईसीएआर शोध संस्थानों और राज्य कृषि विश्वविद्यालयों में संपर्क कर सकते हैं।
  • प्रधानमंत्री किसान योजनाः अप्रैल में 8.69 करोड़ किसानों को सरकार पीएम-किसान योजना के तहत दो हजार रुपये देगी, ताकि कोरोना वायरस  के कारण हुए देशबंदी से किसानों को राहत मिले। वैसे ही, पीएम-किसान योजना से हर साल किसानों को 6000 रुपये मिलते हैं, उन्हें अब अप्रैल में छूट के तौर पर इसकी पहली किस्त दी जाएगी।
  • आपूर्ति शृंखला की आवाजाही : गृह मंत्रालय ने आपूर्ति सुनिश्चित करने के लिए ई-वाणिज्य के माध्यम से जरूरी सेवाओं की आपूर्ति हेतु कुछ मानक संचालन प्रक्रिया स्थापित किए। इसमें खाद्य, किराने के सामान, फल, सब्जी, दूध उत्पाद से जुड़ी राशन इकाइयां शामिल हैं। इससे किसानों को अपने उत्पाद बेचने में मदद मिलेगी। वहीं, इससे ई-कॉमर्स कंपनियों और बड़ी संगठित खुदरा दुकानों में जरूरी सामान की उपलब्धता बरकरार रहेगी।

बंद के दौरान आपूर्ति सामान्य करने के सरकारी उपायों के बाद फलों और सब्जियों की करीब 1900 मंडियां सुचारु रूप से काम कर रही हैं।

  • निरंतर निगरानी और समन्वय : दिल्ली में मदर डेरी की सफल सब्जी दुकानें, कोलकाता में सफल बांग्ला दुकानें, बेंगलुरु में हॉपकम्स खुदरा दुकानें और चेन्नई और मुंबई में इसी तरह की दुकानें स्थानीय प्रशासन के साथ आपूर्तियों के संचार और समन्वय पर निगरानी रखेंगी। स्थानीय पुलिस, जिला कलेक्टर और परिवहन संगठनों के बीच सुचारू संपर्क और समन्वय के लिए मंडियों में कंट्रोल रूम बनाए गए हैं ।
  • राज्य सरकारों द्वारा खरीदः पंजाब के कृषि सचिव काहन सिंह पन्नू ने किसानों को भरोसा दिलाया है कि राज्य सरकार कटाई की इजाजत देगी और बाजार से हर अनाज को खरीदेगी।

कुछ फौरी राहत व्यवस्थाएं, जो सरकार द्वारा चलाई जा सकती हैं –

  • भारत में करीब 6,900 थोक मंडियां हैं, इनमें अनाज, सब्जी और फल की मंडियां भी हैं। इनमें से 1900 मंडियां चालू हैं। फसल-कटाई के दौरान मांग के अनुरूप आपूर्ति सुनिश्चित हो, इसके लिए ज्यादातर मंडियों को चालू करना महत्वपूर्ण है।
  • श्रम शक्ति में कमी उत्पादन और फसल-प्रसंस्करण पर असर डाल रही है। इससे आमदनी में कमी होगी और खराब हो जाने वाले उत्पादों को भी नुकसान पहुंचेगा।
  • लोगों की आवाजाही पर पाबंदी से वितरण भी प्रभावित हो सकता है, क्योंकि 12 करोड़ या इससे ज्यादा मौसमी खेतिहर मजदूर हैं, जो देहात से शहरी श्रम बाजार की ओर पलायन कर चुके हैं। अब वे लौट नहीं रहे हैं।
  • एपीएमसी के एकाधिकार को भी समाप्त करने की आवश्यकता है और किसानों को सीधे व्यापार करने में मदद करने के लिए ई-नैम जैसे अन्य तरीकों से सीधे किसानों से खरीद करनी होगी, इसके लिए खाद्य-कंपनियों को प्रोत्साहित करने की जरूरत है।

ई-एनएएम मंडियां

बाजार से बाहर बिक्री विकल्पों को समर्थन देने में ई-एनएएम एक उपयोगी मंच है।

यह भारत में कृषि-उत्पादों के लिए एक ऑनलाइन बिक्री विकल्प है, जो किसानों, व्यापारियों और खरीदारों के बीच उपज की ऑनलाइन बिक्री और सुचारु विपणन की सुविधा प्रदान करता है।

सोशल डिस्‍टेंसिंग और कोरोना वायरस से देशव्यापी बंदी की इस विषम घड़ी में, नेशनल एग्रीकल्चर मार्केट (ई-एनएएम) देश भर में कृषि व्यापारों को बढ़ावा देने में एक महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभा रहा है। व्यापारी और खाद्य-कंपनियां इस ई-मंडी या इस ई-मंच से सीधे खरीदारी कर सकते हैं। इससे निम्नलिखित उद्देश्य सुनिश्चित होते हैं –

  • सोशल डिस्‍टेंसिंग – व्यापार, रसीद-चालान और भुगतान, सब कुछ ऑनलाइन होता है।
  • किसानों के लिए प्रतिस्पर्द्धी मूल्य – बिक्री मूल्य प्रतिस्पर्द्धा द्वारा तय होता है, न कि बिचौलियों द्वारा।
  • बेहतर पहुंच – राज्य भर के बाजारों में विक्रेताओं को बेहतर पहुंच मिलती है।
  • वास्तविक समय में जानकारी – खरीदारों को व्यापार, मूल्य और सामान वगैरह की वास्तविक समय में जानकारी मिल जाती है।

ई-एनएएम प्लेटफॉर्म के बारे में जागरूकता फैलाने के क्रम में, सीएसई ई-जीओवी, पंचायतों, नागरिक सेवा केंद्रों आदि संगठनों का लाभ सरकार द्वारा उठाया जा सकता है।

SOLV’s article as published in Indore Samachar, dated Apr 7, 2020

Indore Samchar

Relief measures in view of the COVID-19 outbreak

The Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman announced relief measures for SMEs in view of the COVID-19 outbreak, in the areas of Income Tax, GST, Customs, Corporate Affairs, the Banking Sector and Commerce.

Income Tax

  • Last date for IT returns extended from Mar 31, 2020 to Jun 30, 2020.
  • PAN and Aadhaar linking date has been extended from Mar 31, 2020 to Jun 30, 2020.
  • No additional 10% penalty, if the payment of the Direct Tax under Vivad se Vishwas scheme is made by June 30, 2020.
  • Due dates for notices, intimations, approval or sanction orders, investments in saving instruments, investments for rollover benefit of capital gains under Income Tax Act,  Wealth Tax Act, Black Money Act,  Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act, CTT Law, Equalization Levy Law, STT Law, Vivad Se Vishwas Scheme, where the time frame is expiring between Mar 20 to Jun 29, 2020 to be extended to Jun 30, 2020.
  • Interest rate on delayed payments made for advanced tax, TDS, self-assessment tax, TCS, STT, CTT between Mar 20 and Jun 30, 2020 to be reduced from 12% to 9%. Also, no penalty or late fee will be charged for delay during this period.
  • Pending income tax refunds up to ₹5,00,000 to be issued.

GST

  • No late fee, interest or penalty to be charged from companies having annual turnover less than ₹5 crore if they file return by Jun 30, 2020. Companies with turnover more than ₹5 crore will incur interest at 9% per annum instead of 18%.
  • Date for filing GST annual returns extended till the last week of Jun 2020.
  • Due date for issue of notice or approval/sanction order, filing of appeal, submitting return, or any other GST compliant document where the time limit is expiring between Mar 2020 and Jun 29, 2020 has been extended to Jun 30, 2020.
  • Payment date under Sabka Vishwas Scheme has been extended to Jun 30, 2020.
  • Pending refunds for goods and services tax (GST) and customs to benefit 100,000 businesses.

Customs

  • 24X7 custom clearance till the end of Jun 2020.
  • Due date for issue of notice, approval/sanction order, submitting applications or reports, or any documents compliant with the Customs Act expiring between Mar 20 and Jun 29, has been extended till Jun 30, 2020.
  • Pending refunds for customs along with income tax, goods and services tax (GST) worth ₹18,000 crore to be issued.

Financial Services

  • For the next 3 months, debit cardholders can withdraw cash from any other banks’ ATM for free.
  • Minimum balance requirement fee is waived of.
  • Digital charges for trade transactions have been reduced.
  • For MSMEs, the FM urged banks to increase public lending.
  • The moratorium on payment of loan instalments for the next 3 months will not affect the credit rating.
  • Interest on working capital deferred for 3 months will support businesses meet their immediate needs.
  • RBI has enhanced state government’s short-term liquidity needs and increased WMA limit by 30% for all States/UTs.
  • RBI has relaxed export repatriation limits from nine months to 15 months.
  • SBI announced an emergency credit line to meet any liquidity mismatch for its borrowers, along with the additional liquidity facility COVID-19 Emergency Credit Line (CECL) wherein funds up to ₹200 crore will be available till June 30.
  • Oriental Bank of Commerce under the COVID19 Emergency Credit Facility will help SMEs meet temporary liquidity requirement.
  • United Bank of India launched UBI COVID-19 Emergency Credit Facility for its existing MSME, agriculture and other business segment borrowers.
  • SIDBI to provide collateral-free loans up to Rs 50 lakh to MSEs manufacturing medical supplies under its SIDBI Assistance to Facilitate Emergency (SAFE) scheme

Corporate Affairs

  • No additional fees shall be charged for late filing of any document, return, statement during a moratorium period from Apr 1 to Sep 30, 2020.
  • Applicability of Companies Auditor’s Report Order will be made applicable from the next financial year instead of 2019-20 as notified earlier. It will ease the burden on companies and their auditors.
  • Newly incorporated companies have been given an additional time of 6 months to file a declaration for Commencement of Business.
  • Non-compliance of minimum residency period of any Director for at least 182 days shall not be treated as a violation.