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    Rural markets to bounce back better than urban industrial economy: Harsh Goenka of RPG Group

    Synopsis

    In an email interview with Shantanu Nandan Sharma, Goenka also adds a caveat: the government’s inability to contain Covid-19 could trigger panic and damage consumer sentiments once again.

    "As of now, demand looks robust. There has been a record land under cultivation. If monsoon is at an average level, we should have another bumper kharif crop."
    RPG Group chairman Harsh Goenka says a good monsoon could give a fillip to rural markets, allowing rural India to bounce back faster. In an email interview with Shantanu Nandan Sharma, Goenka also adds a caveat: the government’s inability to contain Covid-19 could trigger panic and damage consumer sentiments once again. Edited excerpts:
    How has your company changed the strategy to tap rural markets after the Covid-19 breakout?
    Since agri activities were at a peak, rural demand for our products was quite robust. The outbreak has only highlighted the need for a reliable supply chain. We focused more on ensuring product availability at all levels. Also, all the traditional, peak-season promotion and marketing programmes at mandis, bazaars, etc, were not available. We focused more on digital media like webinars and Facebook to reach out to potential customers. Surprisingly, digital media consumption in rural India is significantly high.

    Are you anticipating problems in your rural segments due to Covid-19?
    Farm tyres (of tractors, trailers and farm equipment) form a significant part of our business portfolio. Rural market is, therefore, a very important market that we cater to. We don’t anticipate any specific challenges on supply side and demand side, and activities continue largely uninterrupted. Labour availability at our plant was an issue but it has improved now.

    Since a good monsoon is expected this year, do you see a positive impact on the rural economy?
    As of now, demand looks robust. There has been a record land under cultivation. If monsoon is at an average level, we should have another bumper kharif crop. That will give a fillip to rural demand across all categories. Rural markets can bounce back better than the urban, industrial economy.

    Do you think Indian corporate leaders are resilient enough to take on Covid-19 challenges?
    By and large, corporates have responded well. Those with better cash management have been able to see through the difficult times. With demand seen across many sectors and with government spend finding its way into consumers’ hands, the situation will only improve.

    Yet, an increasing number of Covid-19 cases is a concern. If we are not able to get these under control soon, panic can set in again, which will impact consumer sentiment and push back recovery even longer.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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