From keeping a crucial supply chain chugging along to putting over Rs 8,000 crore cash into the hands of farmers, dairy giant Amul has been able to burnish its reputation for efficiency during the lockdown. On Monday, Prabhu Chawla, Editorial Director of The New Indian Express, and author and political economy analyst Shankkar Aiyar, sat down for a chat with Amul's Managing Director RS Sodhi as part of TNIE's Express Expressions, a series of live web casts with people who matter. Excerpts:
S Aiyer: How have you managed to keep the supply chain going in the current period?
RS Sodhi: Even if we want to stop the milk supply chain, we can't. In India, milk is a source of livelihood for 100 millionn families. So, we communicated to all our stakeholders--we said, keeping the supply running is not only a duty, it is in the national interest. I am very happy to say that the supply was not interrupted for a single minute. And, instead of us approaching the authorities, we were proactively given support by the Ministry of Home Affairs, local administration, etc.
But, social permissions were more important for our supply chain partners. For example, some of our distributors had trouble coming back to their villages after distributing milk because some neighbours were raising objections. These problems also had to be dealt with.
S Aiyer: How much milk do you procure now?
S Sodhi: We collect around 26 million litres of milk per day. Now, we are collecting 15 per cent more. Within these past 60 days, we have put Rs 8,000 crore (for farmers) into the rural economy of mainly Gujarat--in cash. Out of that, Rs 800 crore was due to extra procurement. Other businesses were declining, but we procured more.
P Chawla: Would this affect your profitability?
RS Sodhi: There is no loss, because there was no decline in demand for us. In spite of closure of restaurants, household consumption increased later. Whatever we lost in business from restaurants, we made up for from households.