Sunday, November 26, 2006

A revolution in India for jobs in Retail and Agriculture...??

I came across Steve Hamms blog -where in he perhaps cant believe Mukesh Ambani’s dream doing “with Indian agriculture what the Indian tech companies have done to the global tech services industry—undercut the market with lower costs and lower prices.”

Steve wonders “That’s going to be one incredible act to follow”

Well, I am of the opinion that Mr Mukesh Ambani's plans for connecting the Indian farmer to the global consumer isnt far fetched-am sure its bound to be the foundation on which the Indian agricultural producers will become worldclass in time!!

1. the agriculturist in India has had to battle the vagaries of the weather and the ‘economies of scale’ in managing the produce of the crops.
2. poor infrastructure – be in transport or storage systems –havent helped the shelf life either.
3. poor returns meant no access or inclination for adoption of best practices. Ironically, because of poor MIS, the farmer even didn’t know which crop to cultivate –and would thereby go by looking at the ‘best prices in the previous season’!! We have seen so many cases of a farmer shifting from one crop to another -little realizing that it was all a case of the supply-demand equation-and each time he wd end up producing more than what was required!!

As a Hyderabadi customer, I can see the retail revolution in fruits and vegetables happening around me in the last few months! ITCs echoupal was the first entrant. Reliance has a bunch –both their own units as well as franchises. Our erstwhile CM Mr Chandrababu Naidu's Heritage group is launching abt 20 outlets in the coming month. The German MNC Metro- though in the B2B business –is launching its Hyderabadi distribution centre later this week (30th)! The prices of vegetables has significantly come down in the recent past. The latest rumour in the market is that Pantaloon groups Mr Biyani would enter the market and insulate us from the fluctuating prices of vegetables-by giving fixed prices for a certain period!!

Why am I bullish?

-Large tracts of agricultural lands have already been leased by large corporates, so that they can achieve best ROI by using the best practices-be it the seeds, the agri inputs, better land management facilities.

-companies like ITCs echoupal inititiatives have helped the rural farmer to have access to computers, internet, keep track of the market prices and be generally aware of the ‘what could be’!

-companies like Mahindra Shublabh have been creating the ecosystem for better management !

-I remember listening to Air Deccans Capt Gopinaths- next dream- start a fleet of cargo planes- that can airlift agricultural produce from across 400 airports ( commercially even one fourth aren’t used today by the passenger flights!)- and hence help reach markets in quick time

-Am sure MNC retails groups are knocking the doors of the government – promising to set up huge refrigerated storage systems across the country to help better shelf life..

-Once the jobs are on offer, its only a matter of time when we can see people flocking to short term in retail or sourcing, or even customer management. Who wouldn’t want to have a well paying job right in the neighbourhood of his home??

It is all happening …and a matter of time.

PS-For those skeptical- here are my thoughts :As a recruiter -who has seen the evolution of the Indian software professional during the last 15yrs, may I just do a quick flashback into what has happened in the last 2 decades:

-would you believe there werent even a handful of colleges that had computer science as an elective in 1985??
-IBM had just left India in late seventies, and Computer Maintenance Corporation (CMC) had a few hundred professionals from the legacy? It is ironical CMC concentrated on hardware and TCS was to build on the boom that happened thanks to the mainframes being replaced by PCs!!
-Liberalisation happened in early nineties and the MNCs came and saw the Indian potential
-late nineties meant that the world started inviting Indian software professionals to combat the Y2K problem.
-the dotcom boom and post 9/11 –the outsourcing boom has made the “India component’ a considerable force.
-Talent wise, there was always a huge population –but the triggers were surely the education system –both mainstream, and the parallel short term courses by NIIT, Aptech-which evangelized the career of a software professional-by throwing open institutes practically in every lane of the major cities. The lure of a foreign posting and a dollar salary in quick time was just the trigger needed to attract the right attention from the supply side!!

And now that we in India aren’t seeing enough engineers to satisfy the appetite of the ever growing IT services company, companies are going the graduate way….

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