New Delhi: Bharti Wal-Mart Pvt. Ltd, the 50:50 wholesale retailing joint venture between Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of the US and India’s Bharti Enterprises Ltd, plans to enlist about 35,000 farmers in the next 5-year to source fresh produce as it opens more stores.
Currently, Bharti Wal-Mart sources fruits and vegetables from more than 600 farmers in Punjab and other states. Last week, it opened its fourth Best Price Modern Wholesale store in Kota in Rajasthan—its first outside Punjab, where it debuted in Amritsar in May 2009.
Bharti Wal-Mart plans to open its next cash-and-carry store in 45 days in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s president and chief executive Mike Duke said the joint venture’s sourcing programme will benefit about 1 million farmers and farm workers by 2015.
Duke is on a visit to India to lobby with the Indian government to open the multi-brand retail sector to foreign direct investment (FDI).
“If India opens foreign direct investment, we can contribute much more,” Duke told a conference organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Liberalizing the sector will be a “huge opportunity for organized retailers like Wal-Mart, and above all for India,” he added.
At present, India allows foreign retailers like Wal-Mart, Carrefour SA and Tesco Plc to invest only in wholesale retail entities that do not sell to consumers directly.
Small traders do not want FDI in retail as they fear this would hurt their business. However, foreign retailers see growth coming from selling multi-brand products to India’s expanding middle class. Hoping to be ready when India opens up the sector, some of the world’s top companies, including Wal-Mart, Tesco and Carrefour, have either announced or already opened wholesale stores.
Duke said the opening up of the sector will benefit consumers as well as farmers and other suppliers and the economy in general. He said Wal-Mart will provide expertise and technology to farmers and bring efficiency to the supply chain.
Carrefour, which is planning to open its first cash-and-carry store in New Delhi, is also working with more than 100 farmers in two villages in Delhi and Haryana to source fresh produce. Germany’s Metro AG purchases fresh produce from nearly 2,000 farmers in various parts of India to feed its five wholesale stores.