News & Analysis

ONDC Aims to Bring Ecommerce to Farm Sector

The central government is hoping that the digital protocols would initiate ground level change via farm cooperatives, mandis, exporters and SMBs

Government’s prestigious project involving creation of a set of eCommerce protocols under the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) has the potential to shift the entire farm sector value chain on to digital platforms. This could help the industry get better remuneration for their produce and possibly even shift away from the MSP regime. 

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal believes that ONDC can work with farmer producer organizations, mandis, processing companies, exporters, small retailers and SMBs to give the sector innovative solutions that would actually put money into the hands of farmers. Of course, once that happens, the MSP regime could be rendered redundant. 

Goyal launched a three-day hackathon organised jointly by the ONDC and NABARD where early stage startups would be joining hands to solve digitization challenges in the path to bring agriculture into the eCommerce map. The winners stand to gain Rs.1.2 crore at the hackathon besides becoming partners with the ONDC. 

Goyal is clear that farm welfare cannot happen without the induction of technology into the domain 

The welfare of farmers and doubling their income is a top priority, Goyal added. When farmers get access to farm inputs, connect to markets using technology and innovation, economic growth will be quicker, he said. Though ONDC was conceptualised and led by the government, it will ultimately be implemented by private initiatives, Goyal said.

ONDC is expected to help small traders, farmers and sellers participate on an equal footing with large players. This will break down barriers and enable them to enjoy the fruits of digital technology, he said.

As ONDC builds interoperability of different platforms, it provides greater choice – from a variety of products, near people’s place of stay or where they require it, he said.

With products offered on different platforms, via different modes of logistics/payment, India will be able to see a revolution in the marketplace. “It will also eliminate a lot of malpractices like algorithms that are often used by Big Tech who literally force consumers to certain suppliers, who are able to prefer suppliers over others, who are able to have higher commissions from certain people and then promote their products as against giving a choice to the consumer of all suppliers equally,” he said.

This will also help mom-and-pop stores across the country, thereby protecting the livelihoods of millions who are otherwise threatened by the advent of Big Tech, he said.

Goyal recently met participants of the beta version trials of the ONDC platform which is currently on in Coimbatore. ONDC went live in Lucknow earlier this week.

It is the sixth city after five pilot cities where it initially went live on April 29.

“Now, neighbourhood kirana stores will not only compete with the modern stores but also increase their income. ONDC will be crucial in democratising the agricultural value chain and digital transformation of the agri sector. A farmer from Himachal can now be connected to all markets across the country and the world,” Goyal said.

This will also help the consumer have a choice in quality and price, delivery and payment mode.

I have also suggested that we look at local languages and regional languages in ONDC so that more and more people can comfortably use the services of digital e-commerce,” he said.

Leave a Response