Walmart looks to source more farm items from India

Walmart looks to source more farm items from India New Delhi: The world's largest retailer Walmart is looking to source more farm produce from India for international operations through its Indian joint venture apart from expanding product basket.

The company's 50:50 joint venture with Bharti Enterprises -- Bharti Walmart Pvt Ltd is looking to engage 25,000 farmers in India by 2015 up from the present 4,000.

"We are leveraging our association with ASDA Walmart UK and providing export market access to Indian farmers," a Bharti Walmart spokesperson told media.

ASDA Walmart is a chain of 500 stores that sell food, grocery and other essential items across UK.

He said there are opportunities to export a range of items from India like musk melon, pomegranate and rice.

As a pilot, the company has started sourcing grapes from farmers in Maharashtra for supplying to ASDA Walmart.

"Last year we had sent 80 containers and looking to double this year," he added.

Commenting on the farmer engagement in India, the official said Bharti Walmart currently works with around 4,000 farmers in India in states like Punjab, UP, Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

"Certainly we would want this to be significantly higher as we expand. By 2015, the plan is to source directly from 25,000 farmers," he said.

On the company's plans to increase supply in the domestic market, he said the company is not only looking at tie-up with more farmers in new states, but also to source fruits as a part of the direct farm model that was set up in 2008.

"Currently we source vegetables from farmers. We are also working on developing exclusive crops such as seedless watermelon," the spokesperson said, adding the firm has imported seeds from Netherlands and provided technical know-how to the farmers.

"This year we aim to supply about 150 tonnes to Easyday stores in India," he added.

Currently, 25 percent of the total farm produce that the company sells at its whole sale stores and Bharti's Easyday retail outlets is sourced from farmers directly.

The company also plans to start sourcing from Andhra Pradesh shortly. It is also looking to expand the basket by sourcing fruits like banana, mango, papaya and apple from India.

Bharti Walmart currently operates 17 wholesale cash-and-carry stores under Best Price Modern Wholesale stores in India.

The company claims that the farmers are paid prices equivalent to that of the local mandis, but with a premium of 5-10 percent.

PTI