Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Market Yard of Pune is one of the most bustling market places in Maharashtra. Daily over 1,000 trucks and small commercial vehicles bring vegetables, fruits and other agri produce to the market from all over India. Spread over 175 acres in over 1000 commercial blocks (galas), the agri produce at the market follows an intricate distribution chain, changing hands from farmers, commission agents (adate), traders, wholesalers to retailers. Some of the new generation of licensed traders at the market are reforming the trading practices by using management principles and adopting technology to bring in more transparency and generating better returns for the farmers. Meet Pune based Rohan S. Ursal, a Management professional and Partner at D. B. Ursal and Sons dealing in trading of fruits, who was honoured with Innovative Young Entrepreneur Award at Krishithon 2017 for his efforts in strengthening the Indian Agri Sector.
M/S D. B. Ursal and Sons, established in 1903 by Late Shri Dashrath Baburao Ursal and developed by his generations, is a family owned business dealing in fresh produce trade. It is one of the respected firms at market yard that has continuously won the hearts and confidence of farmers across India. Rohan’s is the fourth generation associated with this business.
From humble beginnings of selling few kilos of fruits per day back then, we trade over 20,00,000 kilos of fruits annually today.
Rohan got attracted to his family business from a young age. Under the guidance of his father Mr. Satish S. Ursal, he started working actively for his business right from his graduation days. He first undertook a tour of all of his fruit suppliers spread across India. This helped him in establishing relationship with them and know their expectations when they reach the market yard with their farm produce. He also had regular meetings with his customers which helped him in working on bridging the gap between expectations of his farmers and customers.
I would be at the market before 5 am for the sale process and by 12 pm I used to reach my college to attend the lectures. My experience at the market helped me in my academics and similarly my management studies helped me in operating my firm.
In last 5 years, armed with his Masters in Business Administration, Rohan has brought lot many changes and innovations in their trading practices that uniquely distinguishes his firm from the others. Most significant among them is the revamped Open Auction System for sale of all fruits in their block. Auction process at his block starts only when maximum customers are available and that too under CCTV surveillance. It is completed based on consent of the farmers. As soon as the sale of farmers produce is done, a computer generated bill is provided to the farmers and payments are made immediately. Also a system generated SMS is sent to the farmer on his mobile informing him about his total bill generated for the day.
This has helped farmers trust our sale process and also helps them in getting the best possible rates for their farm produce.
Rohan has also setup the process to send a weekly update to farmers to inform them about the market rates and trends. This helps them to plan their harvesting cycles. Also it helps them decide the right price of their produce if in case they wish to sell it. He has been also promoting group farming as a viable option for farmers to come up with a certain quality of produce in substantial quantity which in turn helps in getting a good rate for the produce. Many a times they have provided financial assistance to needy farmers. He also trains his staff members regularly on the upcoming business trends. His workers are made aware about the expectations of farmers from them, thus striking a cordial relationship with them for generating maximum output.
In this ecosystem, it is not easy to introduce changes and even more difficult to sustain it but we have been able to overcome the challenges.
Awards and Achievements under Rohan’s leadership
♦ Their Karnataka Alphonso Mangoes debuted in world’s biggest trade fair for fresh produce, Fruit Logistica Berlin, Germany in 2013.
♦ First export consignment of Onion was shipped in April 2016 to UAE
♦ Member of Italian Government’s Delegation from India to visit International trade fair for fruits – Macfrut 2015 and Interpoma 2016
♦ Visited markets in Singapore, Germany, Italy, Mauritius, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia
♦ First in APMC Pune to start Open Auctions under CCTV surveillance, accept Digital Payments from customers.
♦ Youngest Member to be elected as Secretary of the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Market Yard Adate Association, the sole body of traders in the Pune APMC.
In Jun 2017, Rohan was elected (unopposed) as the youngest secretary of the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Market Yard Adate Association, the sole body of traders in the Pune APMC. In this role, he is actively involved in activities related to educating farmers coming to the APMC, handling their grievances and their satisfaction for services rendered by traders. He organizes monthly meetings in the APMC to solve problems of traders and farmers. Such meetings have also created a platform for knowledge sharing which has been a very positive change from the traditional conduct of meetings. Rohan has also been an active voice in putting forth demands of farmers and traders working together in the APMC with the respective Ministers, MPs, MLAs, Secretaries of concerned department and Market Committee.
Today if proper planning and execution Is done, agriculture Itself can give a substantial Income and can be taken up as a profitable business venture
Rohan is also a director of Purander Shikshan Prasarak Mandal, an educational group having 7 schools and an ITI all located in rural regions of Purander taluka and one near Hinjewadi, Pune district. He has been actively involved with students in sharing the latest trends and promoting professional outlook in agricultural practices.
What could be a better service to nation than serving the farmers who I personally believe are the living Gods of this great country!
World today is progressing at such a dynamic pace that it is important for a country like ours, which has abundant natural wealth, to try and capture the markets world over. Rohan aspires to make a global presence by serving his farmers and customers with best products and top notch service with utmost dedication, commitment and sincerity.