Project Mooo: supporting India's dairy farmers with sustainable technologyJoanna Kurian
With UDAY launching its recent initiative, Project Mooo, dairy farmers can breathe a sigh of relief as their troublesome days of dairy deficits and low income are finally over.
How it all began
Six years back when Param Singh, 29, was on a visit to the Asian Development Bank in the Philippines, he learned about the poverty and unemployment milieu in India. Coming from an agricultural background, he aspired to create a sustainable change for rural farmers, women, and youth. That's how UDAY came into being, harbouring a single, mind-blowing vision of his - enhancing a hundred million lives by 2030.
"Our Managing Director is a very passionate person who wanted to give back to his country, that's why he sold his International College in Australia and founded UDAY to help Indian youth acquire skills and gainful employment. The passion turned into a profession and he invested 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of International College and invested it in UDAY, “says Aashna Singh, Business Head, Rural Prosperity, UDAY.
His efforts have paid off, and since then, UDAY has touched the lives of a large number of rural women, youth, and farmers.
What Project Mooo is all about
Though India is all set to become the largest milk producer the world accounting for 18.5 percent of global milk production, it still faces a huge crisis due to low milk yield per cow. India's estimated demand for milk by 2020-21 is supposed to be 210 million litres and if it cannot meet its demands then, importing is the only solution.
Taking UDAY's vision a step further, Project Mooo was ideated. This project holds the potential to change the present scenario of dairy deficit in India by providing solutions which will not only increase the milk output from milch animals but will also double the income of small marginalised farmers through an enterprise model.
For its pilot, UDAY has signed a contract with a Large milk producer in Punjab to train 10,000 of their dairy farmers covering three districts and 337 villages. It envisions to scale the project and have over one million farmers and three million cattle on the Mooo App by 2021.
"This is a unique approach which is the result of extensive on-ground done on the challenges faced by dairy farmers and how we can use our core capability to overcome these. We are targeting major problems like dairy deficit, milk traceability and lack of extension,"- says Aashna.
The devastating plight of farmers
Farmers across India struggle to earn a livelihood and often surrender to their frustrations by migrating to cities. Many farmers acquire cattle in order to increase their livelihood, hoping that the dairy sector would provide them with some relief.
According to a recent NSSO survey, as many as 69 per cent of agricultural households own less than a hectare of farmland each, making it unviable and forcing migration to urban areas.
India ranks in the top 38 percent of countries worldwide, most vulnerable to climate change and least ready to adapt.
Project Mooo and its inspiring leader
Headed by Aashna, this project seeks to transform the lives of dairy farmers as well as increase the quality and production of milk in India.
Hailing from Amritsar, Punjab, Aashna wanted to work in a startup as she wanted to experience a steep learning curve that would teach her a lot in a year.
The challenges faced by dairy farmers are quite varied, such as low market price, low extension services, and low milk production. Low milk output was found to be the main cause for India's dairy deficit. Animal health, nutrition, and breeding are the main reasons for low production of milk.
A one-of-a-kind initiative, Project Mooo pursues its goal, using a unique, user-friendly approach. It comprises three techniques - visiting communities using a technologically advanced mobile van, providing hands-on skills via Boot Camps and creating rural start-ups headed by village entrepreneurs.
"We are developing an app for farmers so that dairy management practices will become more efficient in terms of getting regular alerts, from when a cow is in heat to mapping the entire life cycle of the dairy animal," adds Aashna.
A handful of rural youth and women will act as "village entrepreneurs" touring various villages in a technologically advanced mobile dairy van and provide hands on skills using the Boot Camp approach to the dairy farmers. A chain of these project Mooo start-ups led by ‘village entrepreneurs' will help outreach and sustainability of training by helping local farmers with improved sourcing for backward linkages (veterinary services, seeds, credit, insurance) and forward linkages (fair price for output and on time payments).
A brighter future
“If the rural youth are skilled, self- sustained and employed, India will soon be the skill capital of the world,"- Aashna says.
Imagine if you knew where the milk you're drinking is coming from, the dairy farmer, the source and the inputs in the milk. Milk traceability can be taken to a whole new level with the Mooo app.
Currently, the average yield of milk of an Indian cow is 3 litres per day as compared to cows in Israel and USA which yield 25 litres per day. Project Mooo aims to increase milk output, increase private extensions to the farmer and double the income of dairy farmers. By tapping into CSR budgets, this project will move forward.