The international business division of tobacco major ITC will invest in Madhya Pradesh to open rural shopping-cum-information centres.
ITC is planning to set up 40 rural shopping centres in those states where it has a presence through its e-chaupals and IT hubs.
The company is setting up the facility to offer more space and comfort to farmers.
Sources said farmers seek a specific, suitable time to sell, and shop, at the ITC hubs and warehouses. The company will create such facilities at its shopping malls.
The rural shopping malls will be open from 6 am to 9pm. Farmers can come and log on to the Internet and check the pricing and sell their commodities.
The shopping malls will have a training facility on modern farm techniques. There will also be a godown and a fuel station. The first shopping mall is being set up near Sehore, and the second one will come up in June near Itarsi in oshangabad district).
“The Sehore mall will come up by May,” said S Sivakumar, chief executive, ITC international business division. “We will invest Rs 3 crore in each such shopping mall,” he added.
The trading operations will be on the lines of e-chaupals.
“Samyojaks, who are basically traders, will operate these shopping malls and we shall try to place all household items, commodities there. The company will create the facility for providing online information on commodity rates and weather,” Sivakumar said.
Entertainment facilities, restaurants, public facilities and parking space will also be available aplenty at the malls, he added. The company will also offer insurance products to farmers.
Banking and automated teller machines will be standard at the malls. ITC is in talks with various financial sector entities in this regard.
ITC will charge a fee for the services and items sold at the mall. “Our role is to create infrastructure such as space, computers, building etc,” said Sivakumar.