Nepali Times
Nepal Dairy's river of milk



Each time Nepal Dairy makes a breakthrough, the effects cause a wide ripple in the Nepali dairy industry, ultimately benefiting not only consumers and producers, but also the company's business competitors.

But HB Rajbhandary, the company's director, is not worried about inadvertently helping his rivals, for him the company's business and the national interest go hand in hand.

When Rajbhandary set up first private milk company in Nepal 25 years ago, it eased the shortage of processed milk, laid the foundations for subsequent dairy businesses and provided additional income for farmers.

The supply of milk is often volatile, and in periods when there is a surplus, some companies stop buying and call for a 'milk holiday', which harms many producers who depend on being able to sell their milk.

Yet, Nepal Dairy, which has been selected by Nepali Times as its May Company of the Month, continued to buy even more and ventured into product diversification as a solution. Today, in retail outlets across the country, he sells ice cream, cheese, pizzas and pastries. In the process, ND has created thousands of jobs and given dairy farmers a fair price for their milk.

Since its foundation, the company continues to enjoy an annual 10 to 12 percent growth in profits. This is remarkable given the political instability of the war years.
One difficulty Rajbhandary is currently facing, and this is surprising in a country which is burgeoning with youth, is a graying workforce. Nepal's brain drain means many young and middle-aged executives have left and there are only seniors who run the company.

In an effort to bring in new blood into Nepal Dairy, Rajbhandary recently opened his doors to college students training them in the processes of the dairy industry. He is now preparing to channel a portion of Nepal Diary's profits into setting up a Nepal Diary Institute of Technology and Management.

This is because during the 1970s when the country experienced a shortage of processed milk, Rajbhandary- then general manager of the Dairy Development Cooperation and a PhD in Dairy technology-didn't have the technicality to solve the problem. "I only understood things theoretically," he says. He had to seek help from countries like New Zealand and Denmark.

Hence, in an industry where many players prefer to keep their methodology hush-hush, Rajbhandary says that helping the younger generation to get hands-on experience is a responsibility that established players should shoulder.

Asked what happens if the students decide not to work for the company upon graduation, Rajbhandary shrugs: "They will probably work for other dairy companies. Nepal needs qualified, competent young people."

It is this ability to look beyond his company's welfare to the national interest that sets Rajbhandry apart from many of his peers. He hopes that if the training produces good managers, he can split the company into separate units such as fast food and bakery sections, and expand each one under separate management.

The institute will also train dairy farmers to diversify their products to encourage entrepreneurship in the countryside. Rajbhandry says ND will help with distribution.

At 75, Rajbhandary has the energy, drive and vision of a man half his age. But he is determined to pass the torch to the new generation. When Nepali Times commented that he will be missed, he laughed and said, "Maybe there are people who want to see younger faces."

B.Previous Company of the month:
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)