The Government of Maharashtra today decided to extend lockdown till April 30, 2020 after meeting with state chief ministers.
This brings the focus on a national strategy to move essentials to nook and corner of the country.
The Retailers Association of India (RAI) has issued a statement stating, “There is enough stock of grains, pulses and other daily essentials for the lockdown period and beyond. There is no need for citizens to believe otherwise and engage in panic buying.”
RAI also said that the association along with its members is working closely with various state governments and with the Centre to resolve supply concerns with regards to essentials as they arise at the earliest.
Earlier, Kumar Rajagopalan, Chief Executive Officer of RAI had told Moneycontrol that since consumers are buying low margin items such as pulses, millets, daals, the margins of grocery has come down to 12 percent instead of earlier 21 percent.
Since the low margin items are consumed in large quantity, the movement from big towns to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities will be a fresh challenge before the grocery supply chains in view of the extended lockdown.
The low margin items are consumed in much larger quantity. Thus, large volume of essentials movement from big towns to Tier 2 and even rural areas in view of extended lockdown is a fresh challenge before the grocery supply chains.
The RAI has come up with a concept of 'Food Soldiers', to mitigate fear in minds of consumers.
Further, a technology-enabled delivery chain will be used to find deficiency points and accordingly link up supply chain between stockists and delivery partners.
One of the bottlenecks, in supplying wholesale supplies to city and town stockists has been the availability of trucks.
In initial phases of lockdown when all shops and establishments were shut down, truck drivers and loaders faced problems of highway food availability.
Many truckers and loaders have either abandoned trucks on side of highways or migrated to their villages.
As per an estimate by All India Motor Transport Congress AIMTC, there are only 10 percent of trucks are available to reach some 3500 cities and taluka-level delivery points across India, including LPG carriers and milk tankers.
After initial hiccups permission papers to truckers from police stations are now available.
Technology innovation support has been sought after.
An app 'Driver Seva Mobile App' supported by AIMTC and BPCL is helping drivers in the current lockdown with information regarding food, water, and safe parking near their location. In the State of Maharashtra, the essential shops are allowed to open between 9 am to 5 pm for purchases.