RURAL CONSUMPTION AND GROWTH


One of the key indicators of domestic consumption is agricultural growth. Agriculture and allied activities contribute around 20 % of GDP and feeds more than 58 % population. Now in the recent economic crisis when we started looking inward, which was right in place earlier too, for overall growth, the emerging concern is the growth of Agriculture which defines consumption pattern of India. During tenth plan (2002 to 2007) agriculture grew by merely 2.3 % against 7.6% of overall GDP growth rate.
The key issues I want to raise is the role of Indian industries and government in developing rural infrastructure, education and health, deploying policy and participating in rural value chain, pricing, insurance, credit and microcredit. Recent global economic turmoil forced us to think beyond urban population to ensure sustainable growth. Companies like Hero Honda, Marico, HUL are outperforming in today’s scenario only because of their rural penetration. Two things are common in these companies. One their product is well designed product to suit rural taste supported by (two) matching delivery mechanism. Take example of Hero Honda whose basic models (main volume and revenue generators) are well positioned for common man’s requirement like fuel efficiency and reliability. Along with their product they have matching delivery network too with widest coverage in tier two and tier three cities. Bajaj, one of the competitors of Hero Honda, closely matched their rural network compared to Hero Honda but failed to position right product. But all these strategies are meant only to take share of rural expenditure. The Indian industries should think beyond that towards participation in rural value chain and infrastructure developments. ITC’s e-Choupal is a good example where the model is not only participating in farmer’s value chain but also simplifying companies supply chain. Such innovation creates value for both company and customer. From government perspective, we need radical changes in agriculture policy, pricing mechanism, credit and insurance to farmers. Along with these a healthy investment in infrastructure, education and health will give sustainable results in long term.

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