Even as the country goes into a 21-day lockdown starting Wednesday to contain the coronavirus (Covid-19) spread, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), popularly known as Amul, is facing glitches in areas like inter-state transport and supply of packaging material.
While so far it has not seen any major impact on milk supplies, the leading dairy co-operative is working with respective state and central government authorities to sort out the issues before it begins to impact supply.
Currently, Amul procures 26 million litres of liquid milk a day of which 21 million litres is from Gujarat and rest from other states such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. While the dairy co-operative has been able to keep up with its average daily liquid milk sales of 15 million litres of which 6.5 million litres are sold in Gujarat and rest in other states, Amul might face issues in supplementary services, GCMMF managing director R S Sodhi told Business Standard.
"We are ensuring that milk procurement from farmers continues with safety measures being taken. However, we are facing some problem in workers being able to reach our factories due to lockdown. But this should be gradually sorted out as we have all the permissions in place and are in touch with the relevant authorities," said Sodhi.
In inter-state transport, the dairy cooperative is facing delay in empty trucks coming back from other states to Gujarat after delivering milk. While trucks full with milk and milk products are being allowed to pass inter-state borders, returning empty trucks are facing delayed re-entry due to lockdown. Along with other states, Gujarat had also begun sealing its borders by March 22.
"We saw that trucks that go full are allowed at state borders but empty trucks coming back face problem at entry," Sodhi added.
In terms of transport, Amul is also facing issues in supply of ingredients for cattle feed. While some of the ingredients are available within Gujarat, Amul's cattle feed plants source raw materials like rice bran, corn, millet, and molasses from other states like Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. "These ingredients are crucial so that we can supply cattle feed to farmers so that milk procurement is not hampered," he said.
Another issue that could hamper Amul's supplies is packaging material. "No factory gives more than a fortnight of packaging material. They should also be allowed to operate and there workers should be provided free movement so that milk and food items' packaging supplies do not take a hit."
According to Sodhi, while so far these issues have not had any major impact on its supplies, GCMMF has made representations to relevant authorities to ensure smooth supplies of milk and milk products.
Meanwhile, in a video message being circulated on social media, Sodhi is also urging consumers to not resort to panic buying amidst the 21 days lockdown.
"I want to reassure our Amul consumers that I have read the Ministry of Home Affairs' notification in detail in which milk and other food items and grocery stores are allowed to remain open. And in Gujarat we see roughly 30 million litres per day of milk production which if you divide by a population of 60 million in the state then 500 ml per person milk is available. So there is going to be no shortage of milk. Milk parlours will remain open. So I request all the consumers to not get into panic buying and buy only as much is required each day," Sodhi urged consumers.