The journey of COVID-19 starts from the end of December 2019, but in India, it came from March 2020 in a significant way. The government has taken immediate action to control it and from 22nd March onwards the wheel of the country stop and declare the lockdown, still is it is continuing, The economic situation of the country goes down, day by day people are losing their job because of industries have stopped their functions.
A big percentage of India workforce were associated with unreserved sectors are losing their job and most of them belong to the rural areas. Transportation and distribution system is getting affected, the situation is horrible and no sign of improvement in the situation.
In this situation, it is a big challenge for the government to continue the wheel of rural India because 70 percent of people are living in a rural area and they are engaged with the rural job mostly agriculture and allied sectors and they are the backbone to maintain supply and demand of the urban market. If we look into the socio-economic structure of rural India, agriculture and allied farm are sources of income. People earn money by producing different types of products and sell them to their nearby market or they sent it to the urban market over the year. In India half of the countries’ income contributed from the rural market. All the major cities and towns are well connected with the rural market. Many corporate houses entered the rural market to increases their scale of operations.
Apart from that rural markets also carry their strength in terms of producing and supply rural products into the urban market. Most of the rural market depends on its marketing system into the demand of the urban market. After taking initiative by the government rural market is a resource hub for all the large scale industries. There are three major areas covered by rural markets
- Selling of agricultural product items in the urban areas, it is a continuous process followed by the rural market.
- Selling of manufactured products in the rural regions
- Supply of bulk amount of agriculture product to the corporate houses to sell in India and abroad.
These are the major forces of the rural market and in India; it is observed that contribution to the rural economy towards countries’ economies is increasing day by day because of new technology and process of the manufacturing system and government initiative for giving the benefit in terms of skill and financial support. But in the current situation, i.e. COVID-19 makes the entire system breakdown. There are lots of problems facing by the rural market to manage their production- supply-demand curve. For which the market is getting affected in a bigger way. There are a few areas where rural market suffering a lot.
- In this situation, the distribution system is getting affected. Perishable products are not supplying to the urban market. So huge losses incurred by the rural people in this situation. There are certain steps taken by the government but it is not effective to mitigate the total supply.
- Though most of the rural market depends on agriculture-based production. There is a need for seed and fertilizer which supply from the urban side. In this lockdown, most companies stop their operations. Therefore, there is a huge shortage of raw material to produce a seasonal product.
- In the export system, the rural market takes a huge part but due to lockdown situations and restrictions on the movement of trade in the outside country, it’s stopped.
- Through product, demand is getting low day by day so there is a huge job cut of rural labors that are associated with manufacturing and production system in the market.
- This lockdown also give a tremendous break to the SME sectors, these are the sectors mostly depends on rural market supply. They are suffering two types of problems like the supply of raw material from the market and unable to sell the product to the urban area.
- Due to lockdown, consumption power decreases both rural and urban part but the percentage is high in rural. Therefore, the rural market unable to sell its product in its local market. They are incurring massive losses because of the high level of inventory. Another way in an urban area, due to different stages of lockdown, it is difficult for people to access all kinds of a product like flowers, milk, jam, jelly, and vegetables also. Therefore, sell to the urban market deteriorated.
- The final was the mindset, due to COVID19 outbreak, people in rural areas suffering an auspicious fear and less return from product reduces their energy to do more work. Therefore, they are making products but not in a position to sell in their market also.
Rural Market cannot stop; if it stops than in Indian economy will collapse. For that central government and state governments are working very hard to find out gateway that can keep the rural market in operation.
The government announced a package for the farmer, now it is a capsule for drivers of the rural market to back in their position. But local administration must have to ensure that people are getting the benefit and utilizing it, Ensuring credit facilities, Rebuilding supply chains for distribution strategy of Agri products, Upgrading critical Agri infrastructure, Incentivizing marketing chains to source from rural India should be initiated, Upgrade short cycle agricultural production seeds, Improvise digital marketing strategy for online marketing.
*Co-Authored by Dr. Gouranga Patra Associate Professor, School of Management, Adamas University