With vendors facing a cash crunch and sales drastically dropping at the Rythu Bazaar, the government stepped in on November 19, along with IDFC Bank, to enable a system of cashless transactions.
Three weeks down the line, both customers and vendors are glad for the system.
“While other markets and farmers are facing huge cash crunch in the city, Rythu bazar has not lost any of its customers,” says Bakka Reddy, supervisor of Rythu Bazar in Kukatpally.
Sunita who owns a small stall selling ginger and garlic says the system has saved her a lot of trouble.
“Right after the currency ban, my sister who sells tomatoes had to throw away 50% of her stock because customers were not buying. Now after the token system there is no need to fear that the vegetables will get spoilt,” she says.
She agrees that the sales they are now registering are less than what they did a month-and-a-half ago, but given the circumstances, she is glad not to be facing any losses.
“As long as I get the cash at the end of the day, I am happy with the new system. People don’t come fight for change,” she adds.
Vikram Reddy, a supervisor of the cashless token system, sits at the counter to provide customers with tokens ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 20.
“This system is very successful here. We make more than 300 transactions every day, and during the weekends it crosses 500,” he says.
Rythu Bazaar which was started in 1999 by the government of united Andhra Pradesh to help small-scale farmers sell directly to consumers, lost nearly 50% of its foot traffic in the first few days after demonetisation was announced.
However, now customers can pay online to obtain tokens useable in the bazaar. After their shopping is done, remaining tokens can be exchanged for money deposited back into their accounts.
At the end of the day, the vendors deposit their coupons at the counter and receive cash or money transferred to their accounts.
47-year-old vegetable vendor, Janaki, says that she’s only able to manage her weekly balances because of the initiative.
“Shivarama, one of our friends, goes around colonies selling vegetables and has been facing losses because no one is buying due to the lack of change. I have suggested to him that he should sell at the Rythu Bazaar. Here we don’t have to deal with the change problem,” she adds.
Mohammad Zaheer, a regular customer of the bazaar, says that the initiative has simplified transactions within the bazaar even as many problems exist everywhere else.
“Having to stand in queue for so long at ATMs, demonetisation has really affected my daily routine. But I don’t have to struggle to get change here. Once I got a Rs 2000 note and struggled to get change. But here I can buy vegetables through online transactions, it made the shopping easier,” he says.