How this startup is empowering farmers to address animal feed challenges
E-feed focuses on the holistic progress of the society, integrating sustainable animal culture with the food security value chain.
Having lived in a rural area of Uttar Pradesh, Kumar Ranjan was well exposed to agriculture and the hardships faced by farmers.
A serial entrepreneur and business consultant, Kumar always wanted to work with farmers, which is why in 2020, he teamed up with his friend Ravi Chauhan to start, a company that is solving challenges related to animal feed.
Focusing on animal nutrition, according to the founders, helps cut carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, thus laying a positive impact on the environment.
“Most farmers are unaware about this. I wanted to educate them. If the farmers feed their cattle right, it will reduce the volume of methane and it will be better for the environment. There will also be an increase in the ROI. In case of cattle, the right feed will give rise to quality milk and higher volume,” says Kumar.
Thus, providing better inputs to farmers and making it safer for human consumption while supporting socio-economic growth is the basic motto of E-feed, the founders say.
Lucknow-based E-feed aim is to target at least 10 million farmers in one year out of a total 80 million cattle farmers, 10 million aqua farmers and 30 million poultry farmers.
“We started E-feed in 2020 because after COVID, we saw the farmers in our network struggle to keep their animals alive which is their livelihood. We didn't have a refined plan then but we gradually built ourselves and our team,” says Kumar.
Kumar ascertained to make it mandatory to educate the farmers about localised animal nutrition, the dietary needs of the animals and ways to fulfil it with home-grown supplies.
“A person consumes what he feeds his animals, if something artificial or of poor quality is fed it is eventually travelling up the food chain -like all the pollutants consumed by the aquatic species have entered the human food chain. Therefore, it’s crucial to be concerned about the nutrition of the animals in order to maintain the ecological balance and sanctity of the food chain,” Kumar explains.
With its database of cattle farmers in the country, E-feed first connects with these farmers either through social media platforms such as WhatsApp or physically through its stores. It tries to engage the farmers to build their trust in the company. The team does this by solving problems based on their farm activities.
The next process is the nutritional advisory. Upon paying a fee, farmers get advice from the experts on the E-feed board based on animal species, geography etc. E-feed imparts training to farmers about the dietary requirements of different species of animals, organic feed processing and about how to prepare feed with available resources at home.
Talking about the impact, Kumar says, “Recently we have opened two stores in Uttar Pradesh. Our store model and the products have become very popular. We are getting enquiries from many feed sellers and farmers for franchise. Our stores cover 11 districts in UP right now. Three more franchises are coming in Jan 2022. Our products in poultry have reduced mortality rates of chicken by 60 percent and increased the FCR. Our products in cattle have improved the health of the cow/buffalo by preventing any disease.”
E-feed started with just 15 farmers. In a span of one year, the team claims to have impacted the lives of over 1.2 lakh farmers.
The company says it procured feed worth Rs 1 crore for farmers in April 2020. After which, E-feed also initiated its own line of nutritional feed for animals.
These supplements aimed at chicken, cows, buffaloes and fishes are made by E-feed. According to the company, their supplements help animals in digestion as well as reduce the mortality rate. According to the team, these supplements are in demand across India.
The road ahead
With a team strength of 10 people, the company is now seeking the government's attention to make healthy diets for animals more widespread.
Funded by VCs like Better Capital, AngelList and Huddle, E-feed claims to have grown 100 percent month-on-month in revenue. The startup has raised a total of $530,000 in funding as of October 2021.
E-Feed expects to soon launch an app that will help farmers from across India with end-to-end solutions to manage farm animals, map their nutrition and growth.
Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti