Farmers say that their produce yields no profit at HOPCOMS.
The Horticultural Producers’ Co-operative Marketing and Processing Society Ltd. (HOPCOMS) are running out of profitability as customers prefer alternative options like online grocery stores and supermarkets farmers produce.
Ramakrishna, Board Secretary at HOPCOMS said that, there are 280 HOPCOMS outlets in Bangalore, out of which only 170 outlets are running and the rest of them are shut due to reasons like shortage of employees and land being encroached for construction purpose.
He added that the profit margin of the existing outlets is very low because of the competition from the push cart vendors and online stores. “Most people today depend on online market to buy fruits and vegetables as they deliver them at their door steps. But, some people who look for quality produce still depend on the HOPCOMS,” he said.
Jayaprakash the Marketing Manager at HOPCOMS said that, due to COVID-19 many people lost their jobs. So, they started selling vegetables and delivering them house to house. Then came the online stores, which is now one of the major competitors of HOPCOMS..
However he added that the sales will go up in the mango season. He said, “We are going to start online HOPCOMS a couple of months from now as people nowadays prefer delivery at the door step,”.
Mary Jyoti, a customer at the Lal Bagh outlet of HOPCOM said, “On a day to day basis I buy fruits and vegetables from Zepto which delivers fresh produce instantly as it is not always possible to go outside. I do rely on Zepto for immediate needs”
She added, “I used to buy from the HOPCOMS ages before but now I do not find the pricing to be genuine. After a long time I have come to have a look at HOPCOMS as I was passing by one, and I am shocked to see the prices of the black grapes. They sell on the streets for a Kg at Rs. 60 but the HOPCOM is charging Rs. 160 per Kg for a slightly better quality”
Another customer Kavita said that, if the outlets are close to her home, she would prefer to buy from the HOPCOMS as the quality is good and everything is available under one roof. However, due to the convenience factor she buys her grocery and vegetables from online stores like Big Basket“If HOPCOMS start service online I would buy from them as it will be convenient,” . She said.
Dr. Parvathamma G.L, the Chairman and Professor of Department of Economics, Bangalore University said, the HOPCOMS are not equally distributed in each wards of the city and it is not always convenient for people to visit the outlets if it is not close by.
In some areas she mentioned that the HOPCOMS are open twice or thrice a week. Therefore, it fails to attract customers as they cannot rely on it for a daily basis. The farmers also do not prefer sending their produce to HOPCOMS due to irregularities.
However, Jayaprakash said that, the farmers get premium prices for their produce at the market.
Further, the board secretary Ramakrishna said that, out of the total profit margin, 80 percent goes to the farmers and 20 percent goes to the HOPCOMS for managing and running the outlets.
Prof. Parvathamma G.L added that, the government should create an online portal for the HOPCOMS and upgrade it. This strategy will help them compete with the private market and to meet the needs of the consumers.
“Additionally the government can also take an initiative to make the HOPCOMS a wholesale market where the retailers like vegetable vendors and supermarkets can buy from. This will help in the revenue generation and also benefit the farmers” she further added.
Farmers Face loss
Farmers say that they no longer profit from the HOPCOMS as the sale at the outlets are very less and it is not very economical for them to travel for a long distance to sell their produce.
Devaraj, a farmer from Channapatna said that a few years back he used to get profit from selling at the HOPCOMS. But, now as the sales at the outlets have decreased, he does not earn any profit.
He added, “The payment is also not regular and there is always two to three months delay in receiving the payments so I prefer selling at the Channapatna market, Mandya or Mysuru Market.”However, Jayaprakash said that, the farmers get premium prices for their produce at the market.
However, Jayaprakash the Marketing Manager at HOPCOMS said that the farmers get premium prices for their produce at the market.
Further, the board secretary Ramkrishna said that, out of the total profit margin, 80 percent goes to the farmers and 20 percent goes to the HOPCOMS for managing and running the outlets.
Prof. Parvathamma G.L said the government should take an initiative to strengthen the HOPCOMS by opening more outlets, providing better infrastructure for quality control and provide transport facilities to the farmers as it would be convenient for the farmers travelling from far and encourage them to sell their products in the HOPCOMS.
She also said that the farmers should be provided with incentives and minimum support price for their horticultural produce as sometimes the cost of production exceeds the money they make after selling.