Archive for September 2009


Ideas for fresh produce chain run by the poor for the poor

In the age of supermarkets, traditional bazaars and street vendors are still major players in fruit and vegetable distribution if one considers quantities sold, distribution reach and employment. Yet supermarket numbers are increasing as a result of incentives that promote ideals of food safety and modernization, in stark contrast to their negative response to street vending, vendors and informal markets that are still mired with low returns.

Street vending and traditional markets generate more employment by volume of business than supermarkets, particularly for the poor. As the majority of the poor are concentrated in rural areas, and rely on agriculture and vegetable growing for the majority of their earnings, it is inevitable that changes to food production, distribution and retailing systems will have an impact on their livelihoods too.

Street vendors are also the main points of sale for poor consumer who rarely purchase in supermarkets because of many reasons like higher prices, inconvenient location, poor quality etc. Poor also spend significantly higher portion of their income on food items. So changes to distribution and retail systems for food have a strong impact on poor as consumers too.

With these cross linkages in mind it is imperative that some business model and structure should emerge that links the poor farmers, poor retailers and poor consumer. In nutshell, a fruit and vegetable procurement, distribution and retailing system established and operated by the poor to serve the poor.