Archive for December 2011


On food supply chains and poor small farmers…

Considering requests from many across the country I am posting here two presentations I made at recently held events in Delhi. Trust these presentations shall be of some interest to other visitors also.

First event was NATCOM 2011 on 3rd December 2011 which was hosted by IIMM (Indian Institute of Materials Management) where I spoke on supply chain fundamentals for organized food retail and food service industry.

The second event NE Connect on 22nd December 2011 was jointly hosted by NSFI (National Skill Foundation of India) and NERAMC (North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd where I spoke on Strengthening Input Delivery mechanisms in North East India.

Both these presentations were built over the hands-on experience and insights gained at two of my recent projects – one far away in East Europe for a multinational retailer and another nearer home in Tamil Nadu for a large NGO.

Those who don’t want to run through the presentations can go scan through brief synopsis of same at the end of this post.



NE Connect


Building on the theme of supply chain turnaround workshop conducted last year, gist was presented as an abridged mystical case study. Synopsis of the presentation follows.

Supply Chain Management as a business strategy rests on 4 Pillars

  • Cross-company / business group process
  • Integrated Supply Processes with best-in-class Suppliers
  • Alliances – internal & external
  • World-class Supply Chain Management techniques

These pillars have to be woven around a thread called VRE to build world class food supply chains. V here stands for value creation while R is for relationships and E for efficiency.

NE Connect

Taking cues from the initiatives taken by the Tamil Nadu NGO a theme was built around the strong need to mainstream poor Small Horticultural Producers in North East India into booming Indian Economy with Knowledge Based Marketing & Decision Enabling Systems.

The a mantra for success (if well executed) could be:

  • Organizing small farmers into business groups using strategic f+v crops in a holistic, integrated and harmonized manner within the farming systems, and get their businesses registered for legal standing – let’s say as Producer Companies.
  • Assisting groups to profile their baseline and establish baseline data that will be used to develop vision based business plans and implementation strategies
  • Assisting groups to develop survival, working capital accumulation and production enhancement strategies and action plans

Who would be best suited to become catalyst and also gainers from this enabling initiative in NE India.

NGOs or Financial institutions or Private Sector Input / Service Providers or Food MNCS – who strongly believe that:

  • farmer and other stakeholders empowerment is a viable enterprise for improving livelihoods
  • raising farm productivity of small holders shall win them their future customers
  • Willing to invest their own resources till positive results are achieved
  • Don’t want have vested interest in the Chain (no ownership of the product or process)

The need for empowerment however has to emerge from within NE India like it did in case of AMUL in Gujarat.

Why I Oppose Organic Food?

Few weeks back at a conference I was almost shouted down when I began opposing organic food.

My main arguments were on the near impossibility of producing REAL organic food in an ever shrinking land holdings and cost of production, which in my view, shall remain prohibitive because of low productivity – unless of course one allows GM seeds under organic regime.

Genuine organic stuff would require one to maintain isolation distances so that so though harmful chemicals in soil, air and underground water aquifers from inorganic neighbors don’t creep in one’s organic production systems. 

Obviously, I could not find an ally at that conference. Yesterday however I found one when I stumbled upon a Washington Post article at 

What a solid argument? Definitely organic movement and opposition to GM seeds is against hunger and poverty.