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ITC Launches Super App’ ITCMAARS’ to Boost Agricultural Business

Picture Source: Internet

Diversified conglomerate ITC has launched its super-app Meta Market for Advanced Agriculture Services (ITCMAARS) to provide farmers with agricultural and related services on a digital platform.

The app has been launched in seven states with over 40,000 farmers affiliated with over 200 Farmer Production Organisations (FPOs) across four value chains: wheat, rice, soybeans and peppers. But the ultimate aspiration is to roll it out to 4,000 FPOs, 10 million farmers and 20 value chains.

The platform is a ‘phygital’ ecosystem that provides farmers with AI/ML-driven value-added personalized and hyper-localized crop consulting, such as a customized ‘crop calendar’ for scientifically planning crop cycles, real-time crop infestation resolution ‘Crop Doctor’, access to inputs, market contacts, real-time soil testing, precision agriculture, and more.

As part of the aggregation model, ITC provides related services through partners, such as pre-approved loans. It will also provide insurance and other digital rural services over time.

At a news conference, ITC Chairman and MD Sanjiv Puri said: “India has around 140 million farmers with scattered land, and we need to bring them together to have a large impact. The policies of government intervention or FPO promotion are very visionary, which is what we are leveraging”.

It’s a win-win solution for farmers and ITC, which purchases 4 million tonnes of grain yearly and will expand over time.

However, he added: “ITCMAARS will make a meaningful contribution to increasing farmers’ income and making India’s agricultural value chain competitive, which will be a success for me,” Puri said.

ITC shares hit a fresh 52-week high of Rs 302.2 on the BSE on Thursday before closing at Rs 299.5.

There is strong demand across the industry for agriculture, hospitality and cardboard and packaging, Puri said.

But for the non-cigarette FMCG business, inflation has raised concerns. However, he said that input costs have risen, but implementation is better.

Commodity prices have cooled at this point, but it’s hard to predict because there are multiple factors at play, Puri said.

The ITC has been exploring “alternative structures” for hotels but has been put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the hospitality industry.

Regarding the form of the alternative structure, he said that certain options were already on the table and that the board would discuss these options once it was decided to consult an expert.

ITC is exiting its lifestyle retail business as part of its cost spending plan. ITC entered the lifestyle retail business in 2000 with the Wills Sport line. In 2019, it sold the John Players brand to Reliance Retail and rebranded Wills Lifestyle as WLS.

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