Sunday, June 30, 2019

Cafe Womaniya: Women-led Food & Snack Cafes and Kiosks in Government Offices

Café Womaniya, is “a food retail initiative to promote food & beverage products made exclusively by women entrepreneurs, at snack kiosks and dining areas in Government offices”. These cafés/ kiosks will deliver low-fat, nutrient-rich, cookies, crackers, Indian snacks/ meals, assorted pickles, condiments, tea/ coffee bags and organic food products, and foster consumption of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts.

Hyper-local procurement of food and beverage products by Government offices will result in new and untapped economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs. Further, low-cost, high-volume, high-utility orders will ensure economies of scale for women enterprises, and ensure fresh foods at all times due to “Just-In-Time” inventory practices.

Most importantly, healthy meal choices at Café Womaniya will reduce intake of free sugars, and salt/ sodium, and limit energy intake from total fats, by shifting consumption of fat from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and eliminating use of trans-fatty acids; some of the primary drivers for early onset of non-communicable diseases such as Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease, in India.


Rising incomes, rapid urbanization, and globalization are influencing the nutritional consumption patterns of masses. Increased access to convenient foods from modern retailers at competitively low prices is further driving people to reach out for unhealthy foods [Popkin, Adair & Ng, 2012, Popkin, 1998; Popkin, 1999; Allender et al., 2010, Arokiasamy & Yadav, 2013].

In India, the modern food retail market grew by a whopping 49 percent from 2001 to 2010 [Reardon & Minten, 2011] and nutrition researchers estimate that 80-85 percent of Indians consume commercially processed foods [Reardon & Minten, 2011; Gupta et al., 2010, Misra et al., 2011] which reflects a significant shift from consumption of nutrient-rich foods to energy-dense processed foods, increased intake of meats and salt and a net decrease in intake of coarse cereals, fruits, and vegetables. Further, availability and accessibility of high-calorie foods in urban areas in comparison to rural areas, has resulted in higher rates of obesity and diabetes, in cities [Popkin, Adair & Ng, 2012, Popkin, 1998; Popkin, 1999; Reardon & Minten, 2011].


According to the International Diabetes Foundation, approximately 33 percent of adults with Diabetes remain undiagnosed [Bloom et al., 2014]. The annual number of deaths resulting from Diabetes increased two-fold from 100,000 in 1990 to 233,999 in 2010. By 2012, India had more than 63 million people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes, earning it the tag of being the “Diabetes Capital of the World”.

Unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity are key drivers for the rise in non-communicable diseases [NCD]. According to WHO, High blood pressure, high concentrations of cholesterol in the blood, inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, overweight or obesity, lack of physical activity, alcohol and tobacco use, are some of the other factors for NCD [WHO, 2004] .


Public offices are synonymous with vintage canteens offering deep-fried snacks and tea coffee to staff and visitors. Café Womaniya will prod public offices to set up Café’/ Kiosk Womaniya which will offer nutrient-rich food & snacks and meals, designed and produced by women entrepreneurs, to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts.

The key goal will be to limit intake of free sugars, and salt/ sodium, and limit energy intake from total fats, shift fat consumption away from saturated fats to unsaturated fats and eliminate use of trans-fatty acids.


Café/ tea and coffee pantry are run in every Government ministry, department and organization operates pantry/ café to prepare and serve light snacks and beverages to office staff. GeM operates a food kiosk which sells branded chips and cookies along with deep-fried Indian snacks, aerated beverages and bottled water.

Café Womaniya will encourage Government offices to procure low-fat, nutrient-rich, cookies, crackers, Indian snacks/ meals, pickles, tea/ coffee bags and organic food products that are available on GeM Womaniya page [] and stack for display/ sale to employees. Food products made by women entrepreneurs will be served in meetings and conferences, and employees can be incentivized to procure the same through staff food coupons.

Canteen services are a much-desired service in Government offices and women entrepreneurs will be encouraged to take up annual contracts for rendering such services. GeM is in touch with NGOs to handhold women entrepreneurs with training and skill development for canteen services. Popular regional and local delicacies may gradually replace branded chips and cookies, aerated beverages and deep-friend Indian snacks.



Café Womaniya will spur hyper-local employment and economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs in 60+ Government Ministries, departments, autonomous organizations and 300+ central public sector enterprise offices in Delhi NCR region.

Several Government institutions such as Ministry of Railways, Defence, Home, and Personnel and Training, are large buyers of food products. 3 percent mandatory procurement of supplies from women entrepreneurs will generate sustainable livelihoods for approx. 3,000-5,000 women representing low-income families in Delhi NCR region, alone.


Since, dietary habits and patterns are rooted in local and regional traditions, Café Womaniya will prod grass-roots mobilization and advocacy for healthy dietary behaviour among Government employees, support wide dissemination of information related to prevention of non-communicable diseases through balanced diets and healthy lifestyles.

Café Womaniya will underline the role of Government in promoting public health, healthy diets and physical activity, and assist Government ministries, departments and organizations in meeting their mandatory 3 percent procurement, from Women entrepreneurs and SHGs.


Hyper-local procurement of food will ensure shorter travel time for transporting fruits and vegetables from farm-to-fork. Delivery of farm fresh quality of fresh fruits and vegetables, in terms of shape, size, appearance and texture, will start reaching end-consumers and this will reduce carbon and water footprint during food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and disposal stages.

Gender Equality

Decisions about food and nutrition are determined by women and influenced by culture and traditional diets.

Economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs through opportunities within public procurement will address the twin challenges of malnutrition/ nutritional deficiencies and gender-violence, faced by women.

Café Womaniya aligns with SDG #5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by enabling the use of technology, especially ICT to promote empowerment of women, and SDG #8 Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value by promoting development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of MSME enterprises, including through access to financial services.


Government e Marketplace [GeM] is an open, inclusive marketplace for procurement of common use goods and services by Government ministries, departments and CPSEs. The platform provides great opportunity to SHGs, women entrepreneurs, artisans, NGOs, Startups and other sectors to register, list and sell their products to government buyers. Women entrepreneurs face numerous difficulties in accessing public procurement markets and GeM has taken several proactive initiatives to facilitate the training and registrations of such specific category of manufacturers/ sellers.

The online platform offers end-to-end solution for procurement of common use goods and services by Government ministries, departments and CPSEs. GeM was setup in 2016 and has 1,026,764 product categories, with 246,237 registered sellers and 36,596 government buyers. Since inception, GeM has processed 19.63 lac orders worth 26,963 Crores in Gross Merchandise Value.


The author is indebted to Ms. S. Radha Chauhan, CEO GeM, Shri S Suresh Kumar, Additional CEO GeM and Dr. Rajeev Kandpal, CFO and Additional CEO GeM, and dear colleagues at GeM for their valuable support and inputs during the compilation of Project Startup Runway.

Special thanks to co-author Anohita, for her rich research, edits, proof-reads and kind support.


Allender, S., et al. (2010). Level of urbanization and non-communicable disease risk factors in Tamil Nadu, India. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 88(ISSUE), 297–304.

Arokiasamy, P., et al. (2014). Longitudinal aging study in India: biomarker data documentation. RAND Working Paper WR-1043. Accessed 20 August 2014, from

Bloom, D.E., Cafiero-Fonseca E.T., Candeias V, Adashi E., Bloom L., Gurfein L., Jané-Llopis E., Lubet, A., Mitgang E, Carroll O’Brien J, Saxena A (2014). Economics of Non-Communicable Diseases in India: The Costs and Returns on Investment of Interventions to Promote Healthy Living and Prevent, Treat, and Manage NCDs. World Economic Forum, Harvard School of Public Health, 2014.

et al. (2010). Imbalanced dietary profile, anthropometry, and lipids in urban Asian Indian adolescents and young adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 29(2), 81–91.

International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS). (2007). National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), 2005-06. Mumbai: International Institute for Population Sciences.

Misra, A., et al. (2011). Nutrition transition in India: secular trends in dietary intake and their relationship to diet-related non-communicable diseases. Journal of Diabetes, 3(4), 278–292.

Popkin, B. M., Adair, L. S., & Ng, S. W. (2012). Global nutrition transition and the pandemic of obesity in developing countries. Nutrition Reviews, 70(1), 3–21.

Popkin, B. M. (1998). The nutrition transition and its health implication in lower-income countries. Public Health Nutrition, 1(1), 5–21.

Popkin, B. M. (1999). Urbanization, lifestyle changes, and the nutrition transition. World Development, 27(11), 1905–1916.

Reardon, T., & Minten, B. (2011). The quiet revolution in India’s food supply chains. IFPRI Discussion Paper Number 01115. International Food Policy Research Institute. Accessed 20 August 2014, from http://

World Health Organization, (2004). Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Accessed 16 March 2019, from

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Startup Runway on Government eMarketplace [GeM]

“Startup Runway on GeM” [], is an initiative for Startups certified by Department for Promotion of Industrial and Internal Trade [DPIIT], Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, to engage with Government buyers and explore opportunities in public procurement. GeM Startup Runway seeks to align certified Startups with Government procurement orders and contracts, to enable Startups in scaling operations from ideation to growth stage in minimal time, and spur hyper-local job-creation and wealth-generation, for achieving socially-inclusive economic growth [1].

Since public procurement accounts for as much as 10-15 percent of GDP in developed countries and more than 30 percent in developing countries, Government buyers are required to ensure high quality and reasonableness of price, and therefore rely on documentation to ensure their adherence to procurement guidelines and regulations [2]. Government of India has relaxed norms in Public Procurement for Startups by exempting them from prior experience, prior turnover and Earnest Money Deposit [EMD] stipulations [3], subject to meeting of quality and technical specifications.

While, product comparison and price discovery are two major challenges for Government buyers in procuring innovative products from Startups, common constraints in public procurement such as lengthy sales cycle, complex processes and significant effort, adverse Government experience and revolving agency contacts act as detriment for Startups to partake in public procurement who are constantly challenged to earn recurring revenues, raise capital, boost valuation and find the right market fit [4].

Startup Runway will enable Startups to conduct market trials with government buyers, seek time-bound feedback and gain realistic product, price comparison and market valuation from potential buyers and investors.

Certified Startups will register on GeM portal as a seller with their DPIIT number, provide basic description about the performance of their products/ services along with the Test Certificates of quality, their functional utility and specify potential user Ministry/ departments where these products can be used.

On Startup Runway, 12 key sub-sectors or areas namely; Artificial Intelligence [AI], Big Data and Analytics, Block Chain, Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics [Next Gen IoT, 3D Printing], Agtech, Fintech [IoT], Health and Life Sciences [Biopharma, Medtech, Digital Health], Cybersecurity, Cleantech, Edtech, Virtual/ Augmented Reality [Mobile and eSports], Adtech and Consumer Electronics, have been mapped to broadly classify Startups who are applying innovation and driving new areas of economic activities [4].

Relevant Ministries/ departments will be sensitised proactively through system generated messages/ alerts in Marketplace about availability of such innovative products on the portal. Potential buyers can evaluate these products/ services with respect to their utility, uniqueness with respect to design, process and concept, and provide feedback in a time-bound interval and manner. Innovative products with 3+ ratings on a rating scale of (1-5) from 3 or more buyers will be accepted for listing as a regular product/ service on GeM.

India has approximately 500 million Internet users and demographic characteristics of these users reveal that nearly 54 percent of users are more than 25 years of age with higher discretionary income and likely to transact more online, half of internet users reside in Tier-2 cities and small towns, and present new opportunities for e-commerce [5]. Most importantly, women constitute 33 percent or 143 million Internet users who, research extensively online for apparel and accessories that are not available in their towns, have a high degree of digital influence in their product purchase cycle and control 44 percent of household spending in India [6].

At the recently concluded The Next Web Conference [] in Amsterdam, 6 countries were acknowledged for incorporating initiatives to promote Startups in Public Procurement, and Startup Runway from India was one among them. Presently, 1,862 Startups are registered on GeM and have received 7,697 orders worth Rs 275 crores.

GeM Startup Runway seeks to support technology development, spur research and innovation by ensuring a conducive policy environment for industrial diversification and value addition to commodities, and aligns with Government’s philosophy to turn Job-seekers into Job-creators. GeM Startup Runway will address goals and objectives under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation [7].

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” ― Joseph Campbell


The author is indebted to Ms. S. Radha Chauhan, CEO GeM, Dr. Rajeev Kandpal, CFO and Additional CEO GeM, Shri S Suresh Kumar, Additional CEO GeM and dear GeM colleagues for their valuable guidance and inputs during the compilation of Project Startup Runway.

Special thanks to Nishant Malhotra, Senior Manager, Startup India and my colleague Sparsh Agarwal for their rich inputs and kind support.


[1] Bajpai, S., Jain, N., & Kanchan, S. (2015, April 23). The Changing Connected Consumer in India. Retrieved March 15, 2018, Retrieved from The Boston Consulting Group website

[2] Kim, D. (2016). Why should you care about public procurement reform? [Blog] Our Perspectives. Available at: reforms-.html [Accessed 16 Jun. 2019].

[3] Startup India, Department of Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. (n.d.). Action Plan - Notifications. Retrieved August 23, 2018, from

[4] Startup Genome. (2018, April). All Reports – Startup Genome. Retrieved August 15, 2018, from

[5] Internet and Mobile Association of India. (2018). Internet Users Projected to Cross 500 Million by June 2018: Retrieved March 16, 2018 from IAMAI website:

[6] Bajpai, S., Jain, N., & Kanchan, S. (2015, April 23). The Changing Connected Consumer in India. Retrieved March 15, 2018, Retrieved from The Boston Consulting Group website changing-connected-consumer-in-india.aspx

[7] United Nations India. (n.d.). Poverty and Urbanisation - UN India. Retrieved from

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Startup Womaniya :) From candle light to "SPOTLIGHT"

Women are the new drivers of economic growth and Women-driven business and their owners are viewed as a potential source of economic and social development. Large numbers of women are setting up and running their businesses. While majority of women who explore entrepreneurship, are driven by necessity, others are motivated by opportunity, and finally some are inspired by a combination of necessity and opportunity.

Studies show that women invest up to 90 percent of their incomes back into their families, and provide better nutrition, health care and education to their children. Since women tend to invest up to 90 percent of their earnings on their families and self, economic empowerment of women is a step towards poverty alleviation at multiple levels.

Hence, there is a real and present need to nurture Women entrepreneurship for achieving inclusive economic growth.


India generates nearly 14 percent of the global talent pool, among which 5.5 million women join India’s workforce each year, all overwhelmingly driven to succeed [Aguirre, 2012]. Although the knowledge economy has created enormous opportunities, women are challenged from reaching their full potential by a combination of cultural restrictions, gender discrimination, and lack of resources [Shukla et. al, 2016].

Due to legislative barriers and socio-cultural restrictions in developing nations, women gravitate towards less productive sectors that are characterized by low pay, long hours, and other informal working arrangements. Specific sectors that rely heavily on women workers include agribusiness, tourism, and textiles. Women tend to be under-represented in industry and extractive sectors, and other highly remunerative activities.

Absence of market linkages, lack of access to capital, financial services and training opportunities are some of the major constraints faced by women entrepreneurs’. Companies run by women are usually smaller than those operated by men in terms of number of employees, asset value, and turnover, besides being less profitable and productive. In developing countries, the probability of women being approved for loans is less than men and at higher interest rates while women in developed nations enjoy higher probability of getting loans with lesser collateral.

Nonetheless, there is an imperative need to develop Women entrepreneurship on the margins of society to achieve inclusive economic growth [Shukla et. al, 2016].


Internet economy in India is expected to contribute $200 billion to the nation’s GDP (nearly 5 percent of total GDP) by 2020 [Bajpai et. al, 2015]. The number of internet users are expected to reach 500 million by June 2018; 300 million urban users and 186 million rural users in December 2017, registering a 9.66 percent growth in urban and 14.11 percent in rural India, over same period last year [Internet and Mobile Association of India, 2018]. In 2015-16, online purchasing in rural India doubled from 4 to 8 percent with convenience and discounts emerging as key drivers for online commerce [Jain et. al, 2014].

Demographic characteristics of Internet users in 2018 India include; 54 percent users who will be 25 years and older with higher discretionary income and likely to transact more online. Half of Internet user base will reside in smaller towns and villages, thereby opening opportunities for marketers and service providers to ensure wider product availability through e-commerce. Today, women control 44 percent of household spending in India and will represent nearly 33 percent of Internet user base by 2018 [Bajpai et. al, 2015].

Wholesale/ retail trade accounts for about 60 percent of female entrepreneurial activity among factor-driven economies with highest participation among of 25-34 and 35-44 years age groups of women [Shukla et. al, 2016].


An estimated 143 million Internet users or approximately 30 percent of Total Internet users in India are WOMEN and the ratio of male to female Internet users in Rural India is 64:36 [Internet and Mobile Association of India, 2018]. Influence of Internet on rural consumers in purchases of mobile devices, PCs and laptops is at par with urban users, but lag in consumer durable, auto, apparel and entertainment [Jain et. al, 2014]. Expanding reach, more affordable access and improved awareness are main propellers of this online growth. Emerging rural Internet users will leapfrog PC/ laptops platforms and use mobile devices to access Internet. Vernacular content is set to increase by more than 60 percent to mirror broadening consumption patterns in print and television media [Bajpai et. al, 2015].

Presently, diffusion of Internet is highest in Kerala (37%), Himachal Pradesh (28%), Punjab (28%) followed by Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir [Jain et. al, 2014].


Access to capital and credit has been one of the biggest hurdles for women entrepreneurs. In 2015, Union Government launched the The Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY), a scheme for providing loans up to Rs. 10 lakh (around US$15,000) to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises. Under PMMY, all banks and Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs)/Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) - are required to lend to non-farm sector income generating activities below Rs.10 lakh. These loans are classified as MUDRA loans under PMMY.

In 2016-17, 78,250 [approx. 11 billion USD] Crores were disbursed to nearly 3 crore [30 million] women account holders under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana [Standup Mitra, 2016]. Women have higher loan repayment track record with 30-50 lower rates of non-performance loans in Women-owned businesses. Banks, therefore have greater potential for cross sales as women are likely to access 2 or 3 more products, in comparison to men.

Women bear great responsibility in any household to care for children, elderly and ensure clean, nutritious food for all, three times a day. Unpaid, women devote more than 1 to 3 hours a day to housework when compared to men and 2 to 10 times the amount of time a day, to care for children and elderly. Unlike men who get to travel and meet peers for networking, women are constrained with household responsibilities and unable to explore new business connections and or opportunities. Further, women experience most stress, when they are in their 30-40s' and busy starting families and raising children. Nonetheless, gender specific financial products and services, designed with the motivations, attitudes and approaches of Women to business are NEEDED [International Finance Corporation, 2014].

Government of India's expenditure for 2017-18 on Gender Specific programs totaled 1,17,221 Crores [USD 16.75 billion]; 30,190 Crores [USD 4.31 billion] on 100 percent women specific programs and 87,031 Crores [USD 12.73 billion] on 30 percent women specific programs [Ministry of Finance, GoI, 2018].


The “Third Billion” Female Economy represents a vast pool of untapped entrepreneurial energy and underutilized producers and consumers. Banks and financial institutions with innovative business models and market strategy stand to access and gain from these new emerging markets.

Engaging women as producers, consumers and entrepreneurs is therefore key to reducing poverty and driving broader economic growth. Banks, Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) at Common Service Centers (CSC), NGOs and Women Self Help Groups (WSHG) can aggregate women artisans and micro-entrepreneurs, register as "Seller" on Government e-Marketplace (GeM) and offer generic products to various government departments, institutions and PSUs. More importantly, GeM platform will align women entrepreneurs and professionals in rural hinterlands with hyper-local economic opportunities in Government institutions. Startup Womaniya neatly aligns with Prime Minister’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Nari Shakti 4 New India, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and empowered Women-led development in India.

Startup Womaniya initiative at GeM addresses the Sustainable Development Goals SDG 5 Gender Equality which seeks to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Compelling research evidence reinforces, economic empowerment of women and girls as a multiplier effect in accelerating economic growth and sustainable development.

SDGs are global mission statements to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. These goals are interlinked and often the key to success with one SDG will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another. Some other goals addressed include SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities, SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

From Candlelight to SPOTLIGHT

There is an inherent need to build a repository of knowledge, resources, and guidance regarding entrepreneurship. Key stakeholders in the government, the private sector, and civil society should create a network across India, linking women in rural and urban centers. This cross-sector initiative should provide free business counseling to aspiring entrepreneurs, improve market linkages, help them tap into existing resources, and connect them with mentors. Women should be encouraged to attain leadership positions in sectors employing large numbers of women.

Connecting women entrepreneurs with Government departments, institutions and PSUs via Government e-Marketplace and facilitating seamless e-procurement of general use products and essential services in a hub-spoke network is POSSIBLE. As India’s continues to emerge as a global leader, removing the obstacles to women’s economic empowerment will exponentially increase its power, now and for tomorrow.


The author is indebted to Ms. S. Radha Chauhan, CEO Government e-Marketplace (GeM) and Ms. Geetanjli Agrawal, VP Communications and Training, GeM for their kind assistance and cooperation during the compilation of Project Startup Womaniya.


Aguirre, D., Hoteit, L., Rupp, C., & Sabbagh, K. (2012). Empowering the Third Billion & Women and the World in 2012. Retrieved April 15, 2018, from Strategy & Formerly Booz & Company

Bajpai, S., Jain, N., & Kanchan, S. (2015, April 23). The Changing Connected Consumer in India. Retrieved March 15, 2018, Retrieved from The Boston Consulting Group website

International Finance Corporation (2014). Women-owned Businesses in India, A Research Report on Opportunities, Challenges and the Way Forward. Retrieved International Finance Corporation website, March 10, 2018, from

Internet and Mobile Association of India. (2018). Internet Users Projected to Cross 500 Million By June 2018: Retrieved March 16, 2018 from IAMAI website:

Jain, N., & Sanghi, K. (2016, August 10). The Rising Connected Consumer in Rural India. Retrieved March 15, 2018, Retrieved from The Boston Consulting Group website

Ministry of Finance, Government of India. (2018). Part-1-General, Gender Budget, Statement 13, Union Budget 2018-19. Retrieved from The Ministry of Finance, Government of India website March 18, 2018 from

Shukla, S., Tanuku, K., Bharti, P., & Dwivedi, A. K. (2016). Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2014, India Report. Retrieved from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor website, March 10, 2018, from

World Bank. 2012. World Development Report 2012: Gender Equality and Development. World Bank. © World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”

World Bank, World Development Report 2012. p. 80.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Food Security - Mad, Sad, Bad or Glad

India is the second most populated nation in the world, with approximately 1.30 billion people and experts forecast India to equal China’s population in 2021 at 1.47 billion and top at 1.68 billion by 2050 [1].

A developing nation with a large segment of young population base, is witnessing rising individual incomes and rapid urbanization. Further, a shift in dietary patterns from carbohydrate to protein and vitamin rich diets and preference for processed and semi-processed food, is presenting a new set of challenges and opportunities for the existing food supply chains in India [2].

Base-of-Pyramid (BoP) households spend nearly 50-70 percent of their incomes on food. Inflation among food prices, force base-of-pyramid households (BoP) to budget and spend more on food and less on other essentials such as clean water, education, health, hygiene and sanitation facilities [3].


Indian agricultural output ranks globally; #3 in food grains production at 252.68 million metric tons (MMT), #2 in horticulture at 86.283 MMT in fruit and 167.1 MMT in vegetable production, #1 in milk production at 146.3 MMT and among top 10 in freshwater and marine products at 10.431 MMT [4].

In 2015-16, India exported INR 1.692 lakh Crores or 25.517 billion USD worth of agri commodities, with; buffalo meat, basmati rice, spices, rice (non-basmati) and sugar among Top 5 exports.

India also imported agri commodities valued at INR 1.443 lakh Crores or 21.795 billion USD, with; vegetable oils, pulses, fresh fruits, cashew and spices ranking among Top 5 imports in the country [5].

In 2015-16, Government spent 1,39,419 INR Crores or 54.08 percent of total subsidies and 7.81 percent of total Government of India’s (plan and non-plan) expenditure on food subsidies [6].


Yet, in 2015, India lagged in key health and social indicators; 15.2 percent prevalence of undernourishment (% of population), high infant and child mortality rates; neo-natal 695,852, infants 946, 304 and under five 1.201 million deaths [7].

In 2015, 12,602 agri professionals committed suicide, of which 8,007 were farmers/ cultivators and 4,595 were labourers. 3,097 or 38.97 percent of farmer/ cultivator suicides were due to bankruptcy or indebtedness, while 1,843 or 40.1 percent of suicides among labourers were due to family problems. Since 1997, a total of 2,96,979 farmers have committed suicides; 2,54,579 or 85.72 percent were males and 42,400 or 14.28 percent were females [8].


Food security in India remains an enigma given the numerous stakeholders ranging from millions of farmers, agri input-providers, agri entrepreneurs, food processing entities and end-consumers. From 1998-2012, national and state agencies entrusted with the procurement, storage and transportation of food grains in the country, incurred food-losses totalling approximately 638,000 MT. The present value of this food-loss is estimated at INR 700 Crores or 100 million USD. Further, India’s losses among annual fruit and vegetable production are pegged at INR 2 lakh Crores or 28.5 billion USD [9].

These losses represent a very small fraction of the total losses incurred across the country due to poor warehousing infrastructure, tardy logistics, fragmented supply chain linkages, little or no access to markets and credit. Food-losses reduce food available for human consumption, impact livelihoods, drain tax-funded food subsidies, and create price volatility among essential food commodities.


Food-losses emit deadly greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and emissions from food systems are estimated to contribute from 19-29 percent of total GHG emissions. 75 percent of global deforestations are due to agriculture and stimulation studies at IFPRI suggest that a 20C rise in temperature could shrink almost 50 percent of wheat production in the Indo-Gangetic belt, thereby threatening the food security of 200 million people [10].

Clearly, these food-losses are not sustainable in the long run, incur economic and environmental costs, loss of livelihoods and therefore, present a compelling case for closer examination of reasons and possible interventions to stem such losses.


These social indicators are unacceptable in light of the quantum of subsidies provided by Government of India to poor masses.Governments are faced with the challenge of ensuring constant and adequate supply of nutritious food at economical prices. While developed nations have ensured food security by defining and refining their food supply chains, India needs to revamp and streamline its age-old food supply chains.

This blog series presents an insight into food-losses in India with verifiable and quantifiable evidence, identifies key drivers that necessitate mitigation of such losses, and presents technology and business process interventions to plug food-losses.

[1]FFS Pardee Center for International Futures. (2014, January 17). IFs Forecast - Version 7.00. Retrieved December 10, 2014, from Google Public Data:
[2] Reardon, T., &Minten, B. (2011, September 23). The Quiet Revolution in India's Food Supply Chains. Retrieved March 13, 2014, from International Food Policy Research Institute:
[3] WEF, BCG. (2009, January). The Next Billions: Unleashing Business Potential in Untapped Markets. Retrieved May 2013, from World Economic Forum:
[4]Govt. of India. (2015, January 28). Agriculture Statistics at a Glance. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from Directorate of Economics & Statistics, Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture:
[5]Awasthi, A. (2016, January 10). India's Agri Imports - FY 2009 - 15 [Web log post]. Retrieved June 15, 2017, from
[6]GoI (2016), “Expenditure Budget Vol. 1, 2016-17”, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Annexure 3
[7]Google Public Data [World Development Indicators]. (n.d.).
[8]NCRB. (2015). Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2015, from National Crime Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India:
[9] Awasthi, A. (2017, August 15). Post Harvest Loss Statistics. Retrieved August 30, 2018, from Save Indian Grain, Post-Harvest Loss Statistics. (2015, August 15). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from
[10] Nelson GC, Rosegrant MW, Koo J, Robertson R, Sulser T, Zhu T, Ringler C, Msangi S, Palazzo A, Batka M, Magalhaes M, Valmonte-Santos R, Ewing M, Lee D. 2009. Climate change: Impact on agriculture and costs of adaptation. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute. (Available from

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sankalp Save Indian Grain Foundation - Business Process & Workflow

Who we are?

Sankalp Save Indian Grain Foundation (SIGO) is a social enterprise, dedicated to the design, development and delivery of modern grain storage solutions, Grameen Kalyan Kendra/ aggregate food hubs and agri stakeholder and cluster maps for small and marginal farmers in India.

We are passionate about stemming postharvest losses in India.

What we do?

1 - Minute intro to our work

Why we need your support?

Fundraiser page on

This is a two minute pitch towards crowdfunding for a pilot project to stem postharvest losses and improve farm incomes.

We have been working on SIGO for past three years and are confident of what’s required to pull this off. Now, we need your help and support to power our efforts in constructing a prototype Grameen Kalyan Kendra/ aggregate food hubs along with a 5,000 MT flat-bottom farm bin.

How we plan to go about?

This five minute animation explains the workflow of the pilot project to stem postharvest losses and improve farm incomes.

Where we are in development

SIGO has designed and developed Grameen Kalyan Kendra/ aggregate food hubs, flat-bottom farm bins and agri cluster maps. We have tagged and mapped agri stakeholders and commodities, configured our supply chain, and are now commencing work on construction of Grameen Kalyan Kendra/ aggregate food hubs and flat-bottom farm bins in Hardoi, UP.

Traction and Validation

  • Shortlisted for “StartupIndia” initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Jan. 16th, 2016
  • Selected among Top 30 Technology companies by, a leading online media platform, at#TechSparks2015 on Oct. 31st, 2015
  • Invited by Digital India for storytelling session at IITF, Pragati Maidan on 17th Nov. 2016
  • Invited to speak about post-harvest losses and our work by Josh Meets at Lucknow, on 25th June, 2016

Media and Publications

  • “Agri Cluster Maps can help India improve its existing Food Supply Chains” published in Agriculture World, Feb. 2016

So why should you support us?

  • Be the first to come on board this project, and bring your friends along (and we would love that).
  • You often wondered where you food came from and why prices surged during holidays. We have answered your first concern with agri cluster maps and need your help to address the surge in prices.
  • You will love Big Data visuals, IF it makes your plate more appetizing and purse more economical.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Role of Women in India's Food Supply Chains

In most parts of the World, women comprise bulk of the workforce in the agriculture sector. In addition to taking care of their children, they are engaged in labor-intensive household activities such as collecting wood for fuel, water for cooking, cleaning and drinking. Women farmers often have smaller land holdings, lack access to farm inputs, extension services and real-time information.

Experts are of the opinion that if women were to have the same level of access to resources that are available to men, then they could increase their farm productivity by nearly 20-30 percent which in turn could increase farm output by 2.5-40 percent.

Food supply chains in India, employ women in large numbers and often times they serve as the last-mile agents for retail of fresh produce. Harsh working conditions, lack of access to hygiene and sanitation facilities and irregular incomes are some of the challenges faced by these gallant and indefatigable women.

Thank you ALL for nourishing India