My Story - “Back to Basic – Way towards Integrated Hi-tech Dairy Farm”
There was a time when I had to travel from my home to my college (which is approx 70 km) by train every day to save monthly 1000 rupees, otherwise I need to pay for staying as paying guest. Train was costing my Rs. 110 per month on student pass. Infact, I completed my primary, secondary education and my engineering study entirely with the help of scholarships and community help.
Now, I am successful professional and entrepreneur with happiness and smile on my face always.
After completing my engineering in Chemical/Petroleum from premier institute of Gujarat it was obvious to join reputed organization with handsome salary and I did exactly the way any young collegian do. First job was my first lesson of real life to spend time under strict supervision of highly experienced seniors and bosses. Well, that was awesome experience to work for world class grassroot refinery set up at Vadinar under the auspices of Essar Group. I worked six years in Essar Oil- Vadinar. Along with the job, my MBA was also completed which gave immense sense of “complex management” and who knows that it will be playing crucial role in future years !
Confidence gained from working at home state (Gujarat) carried me to try more challenges at abroad and this time at West Africa. I got good and long/stable experience to work in Nigeria and have some personal entrepreneur experience mixed with my oil gas job which gave me multicultural environment feeling which is far away from my home country. It taught me a lot of lessons mostly “good”. I worked almost 9 years continuously in Oil Gas sector in Africa and turned myself to “seasoned professional”. I did smaller level business also in Nigeria to get familiarization of this “tough world”. I learnt how to grow independently and get success which eventually I did successfully. Life of the people is so hard over there in Africa but one good thing that they taught me about life is to “Stay happy in every stage of life”. Money or no money was not at all the “factor” for their happiness. I felt that change in my life by staying in Africa and then I accepted one more challenging assignment to work with US Army even in Afghanistan (Kandahar Air base) where there is “insurgency” and it was indeed “disciplined experience” for me by staying with world’s best army and work for them in construction projects. I was not knowing the fact that I am getting stronger and stronger by doing such complex works. By this way, I was collecting “rewards of life” in different countries with different cultures and with different types of hardships. I learnt to “stay happy” and started believing in “Karma Theory” which is real truth of life.
Now to share some joy of previous work experience and seniority as Project Manager, I accepted to handle more numbers of multi million dollar projects execution challenges in UAE and Iraq which is the “hub” of the new world commerce. Oil and Gas projects in middle east are bigger, better and technology driven and that keeps me confident enough to handle my problems independently. As on today, I got strong and continous 20+ years of industrial experience which is great “prize” for professional like me. I am still working as of now with posting is in Iraq which is even teaching one more lesson of life. I am safe and currently contributing in world’s second largest oil field- Rumaila (Basra- South Iraq).
Being a Gujarati in nature, business is my passion from the beginning. Entrepreneurship, finance and investment was my area of interest initially but as the money was constraint during the initial stages of my career and I had a long list of responsibilities then, it took some time to materialize all effort in “business” which I am doing now. When hard earned “good and sizeable money” from my Oil and Gas jobs started showing “surplus”, then I jumped to fulfil my dream of doing something for future generation and then it is realized that it should be “Integrated dairy farming / Agriculture”. As experts are predicting, “Food security” will be tomorrow’s biggest challenges for every country as land for agriculture is depleting and world becomes more of “materialistic” instead of “natural”. People have tendency to “go away” from villages but we have to go back to our nature otherwise we will not survive “healthy”.
I am having good habit of reading books of various topics of life and especially success and failure stories of smaller to big businessmen/entrepreneurs, innovations happening around the world and day to day happening of business and upcoming opportunities. Today’s internet world even brought us together and share the ideas/innovation. This habit really helped me to shape-up and seizing opportunity which is on hand.
I realized that in today’s IT world, nobody wanted to do “hard and dirty” work like agriculture and dairy farming. Everybody wants to sit in AC office and want to earn big bucks. But that is not possible without really rendering hard work and basic work in any field. That’s where I realized that I should be doing this dairy/agriculture work “indirectly” without judging it’s goodness or bad part of it. As my family is “village based” and we still preserved same value of living in joint family even today in metro city like Ahmedabad, to find better person to manage my dream of dairy farm management was not difficult for me. I got right person at right time and at right location. My working partner Mr. Shailesh is “expert” and hard working, honest and sensible. Our same area of interest pulled us “together” and I decided to invest all the “Seed Money” for my dairy farm. I invested money for all the infrastructure for shed preparation and cattle purchases (started with Banni breed of Gujarat which is good, strong and can survive difficult desert type conditions). We are growing green fodder in rented farm of 5 acres which is located in the middle of metro city- Ahmedabad. It is really amazing. Good to go for now.
Business journey Begins….
My journey is already started with 35 buffaloes, 4 cows and 40 buffalo calves as “good opening” from August-2016 and we are delivering almost 500+ liters of milk every day. I am continue working in my Oil Gas job which is giving me 50+ lacs per year (tax free as a NRI) which I always keeping as “back-up” and for “very big expansion” which is coming in next year 2017.
I yet not register the name of my farm as we are doing this dairy farming on “independent farmer” basis. I missed my grandfather who was always an inspiration to me to face any challenges of life. To dedicate my love for him, I am planning to register the name my dairy farm as “Dadaji Dairy Farm”. His name and blessing will always remind me about my attitude during good and tough situations of life.
I remember one popular quote saying that “Where there's a will, there's a way” and it was exactly happened with us. When NABARD seen our progress in the small time of 3 months, they decided to finance 30 lac for our phase-1 expansion. We are adding some more money with it and also all the profits were added to arrange for other 40 buffaloes with relevant infrastructure. In next 3-4 months, we are planning to deliver atleast 1000+ liters of pure and natural fresh milk to household in the nearby area.
At this level of arrangement we are currently doing the turnover of Rs. 1 crore(on annual basis) which will be increase upto Rs. 2 crore (annually) after the phase-1 expansion which is due in next 3-4 months.
In parallel, private dairy owners are also planning to tie-up and discussions are undergoing and if everything goes well, we are planning to increase our herd of 200+ buffaloes by the end of 2017.
In phase-2 & 3 expansion, we are open for “debt fund” or “debt or loan against buyback” arrangement from private investors, VCs and dairy plant owners. This money will be utilize to purchase hi-tech infrastructure integrated with bulk milk cooler, automatic milk parlour and milk processing machineries, hydroponics fodder system, biogas plant, vermin compost, Greenhouses, cross breed & high yielding buffaloes/cows, Special unit for rearing calves. Our target to achieve turnover at the end of 3rd year will be approx Rs. 5 crore
Strength of our planning…..
We have good fertile land, 24x7 water and we are now planning for hydroponic way to get fresh nutritious fodder for our cattles. This arrangement override the possibilities of drought. In future, we are even planning to prepare our own cattle feed (dana and mineral mixures) to reduce the cost of operation. Our aim is to provide “100% pure, Natural and fresh organic milk to households. We are using dungs as fertilizer in our fodder farming. Same natural fodder with clean water will be served as feed to our cattles. This is natural cycle and we will stick to it. We are providing free environment to all the buffaloes and cows (in Marathi it is call “Mukt Gotha Paddhati”- meaning Free movement). By this way, we are getting good fat and sufficient nutrients in their milk.
I have stable and surplus funds coming from my salary of oil and gas job which is plus point to get what you want as per your time scale and instantly to improve our operation which we are doing carefully.
There is a popular quote saying that “Self-Trust is the first secret of Success”. We have to initiate work by all means if we want to start something great. We should not wait for success to come to us.
Unlike most persons, I decided to continue doing my lucrative Oil and Gas job to back-up the required fund for expansion of my business. I really want use my money for fast expansion and creating suitable infrastructure as and when required and as per planning. Most of the entrepreneur failed by small hiccups because of lack of initial finance and if there is small delay to realize profit from first phase of operation. We are in complex world and we will continue get strange surprises. We should have to start and back-up our finance such a way that we will continue in our planned work irrespective of any problem or complexity arising out of the way. I did enough research and with full back-up only I started my business.
In business growth and expansion, everybody is welcome and I am open for their participation in “more growth” by way of financing my bigger dream through their guidance and experience. VCs/investors are really helpful for this “gap” that exists in our current system. Though, now situation is changing and moving positive direction.
Once I achieve larger milk production capacity vis-à-vis infrastructure we planned, I will start selling branded milk and milk products with “online” purchase option and tie-up or JV with multi nationals companies. Casein export is also one of the proposed future planning if suitable JV found along the way. We are even planning to start networking of similar dairy farmer for increase of milk collection and handling/processing capacity in “co-operative” way.
Our overall aim is to “cultivate through nature” and “team work from common man” as we are responsible for the employment of many locals. We want mixed ratio of mechanization Vs manual method as a part of “social responsibilities”. What I collect from Society during my hardship days, will have to return back to society with interest. That’s my motto.
I hope that I will get your blessings and opinions/suggestion to improve my business.
This is just “beginning”. Journey is started through “one step”.