The study conducted by the research team of IIM Rohtak on the food grains supply network is recognized by the World Health Organisation. The study proposes a mathematical model for the existing food grain supply chain network that considers the government guidelines issued to procure food grains from farmers under the COVID-19 situation.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, though the lockdowns proved to be an effective measure in containing the number of cases, some immediate challenges arose from the disruption of economic activities. One of the most critical challenges is the disruption in the procurement of food grains due to nationwide lockdown in India, leading to significant food grain losses. Against this background, the study answers the question: How to reconfigure the food grain supply network under the pandemic crisis?
Thus, the study was planned to reconfigure the existing food grain supply chain network by formulating a mixed-integer programming model (MILP) incorporating the government guidelines issued to procure food grains from farmers under the COVID-19 outbreak to support the worldwide personal distancing constraint. The reconfiguration of the supply chain network is carried out in two steps. In the first step, a given number of procurement centres are decided based on a distance constraint between villages and procurement centres determined using a mathematical model. In the second step, villages are assigned to procurement centres, and procurement centres are set to a central warehouse to minimize the fixed facility cost, transportation cost from village to procurement centre, transportation cost from procurement centre to the main warehouse, carbon emission cost, and social distancing cost. The results indicate that the proposed model is highly effective under pandemic emergencies like the current COVID-19 crisis.
Prof. Dheeraj Sharma, Director IIM Rohtak who led the research team said that this study will be beneficial for the United Nations and various governments in several ways. Firstly, the mathematical model introduced new constraints such as personal distancing, which is unique in nature and highly significant to the COVID-19 crisis.
Secondly, the study presents a novel hybrid approach for procuring food grains that ensures a selling facility for farmers within the recommended distance from their villages. This study will help the United Nations and other countries leverage on this study to drive systemic change towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (United Nations, 2015). The governments are already making efforts to reduce the amount of wasted edible food to achieve the target of SDG-12 that involves food waste reduction.
Finally, the study presses on the importance of an IT-enabled strategy for designing the supply chain network, as information flows to the farmers in advance through mobile messaging, Whatsapp, etc. to ensure safe and secure procurement of food grains from farmers in the wake of pandemic is of immense importance for the well-being of all supply chain actors and society at large.