WB issues APMC license to Metro Cash

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Kolkata, Oct 11: The West Bengal government managed to clinch the precipitated deal with Metro Cash and Carry by issuing APMC licence to the German wholesale giant under certain conditions, ending an intra-Left Front feud and sparing the state from another blow after Nano's flight. ''We are delighted that we have received our APMC licence as it is crucial to our business model,'' Member of the Executive Board of Directors, Metro Cash and Carry, Frits van Peski said on Friday, Oct 10.

State Agriculture Marketing Board Chairman Naren Chatterjee said under an agreement, signed between the two sides, MCC would have to confine itself only within the wholesale segment, selling items not below the worth limit of Rs 5,000 for every single purchase. The company would also have to obtain the local RMC (Regulated Marketing Commodity) licence for procuring food itmes from farmers with a bar on taking up contract farming anywhere.

The renewal of APMC licence came in the wake of a conciliatory meeting on October 6 between the CPI(M) and the Forward Bloc, controlling the state Agriculture Marketing Board and opposing the entry of MCC in the state on the ground that it would severely affect the livelihood of small traders.

The APMC (Agricultural Produces Marketing Committee) licence, which allows corporate entities to buy farm produce directly from farmers and sell them in the market, was issued to MCC by the Marketing Board in 2005. But the Board refused to renew it thrice since 2007 subsequently prompting the company, already having made an investment of Rs 140 crore, to quit Bengal.

With the Forward Bloc being rigid against allowing MCC to operate, the Chief Minister exterted his special power to direct the Agriculture Marketing Board to issue APMC licence to the German company.

This led to a virtual revolt of the Forward Bloc, threatening to pull of its four ministers from the state Cabinet, and finally coming to a reapprochement with the CPI(M) to give nod to Cash and Carry with certain 'safeguards' in the interest of farmers and local traders.

Catering to business customers like hotels, restaurants and small retailers, MCC's Kolkata outlet will be the fifth in the country, ready to operate in the next six to eight weeks.

''We are keen to start our operations to demonstrate the benefits of our business-to-business concept to our professional business customers in Kolkata,'' MCC Managing Director Martin Dlouhy said.

In addition MCC would be rolling out a special Kirana training programme to help kiranas enhance their business by educating them in terms of pricing policy, goods storage, assortment as well as marketing issues and microfinance, company sources said.

Besides the forthcoming new outlet in Kolkata, the company operates two wholesale centers in Bangalore, one in Hyderabad and one in Mumbai.

The Metro wholesale center in Kolkata has a selling space of 100,000 square feet and will offer more than 18,000 food and non-food articles, focussing on fresh produce and other farm products. The company had already recruited and trained 350 people.

UNI

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