Today’s young dairy farmers are developing innovative ways to revolutionize the entire milk value chain. They are at the forefront of advancing cattle care, increasing crop yields, reducing waste, improving market access, developing novel technologies, and increasing sustainable farming practices across the country. These small and medium dairy farmers come from diverse backgrounds, with unique insights, perspectives, and approaches to tackling Indian farm productivity challenges.
Even as the pandemic-led crisis shrank India’s overall economy, its agriculture sector, supported by a normal monsoon, robust kharif sowing and adequate water storage in reservoirs, remained a bright spot, as per the Government of India. However, the growth did not result in higher farm incomes due to the rise in input costs caused by the lockdown. With selling farm produce as their primary source of income, more than one fourth of their income is spent on fertilizers, manure, and pesticides to enhance their produce.
Sistema.bio was founded to cater to these small and medium dairy farmers who prioritize food production over industrial crops, the ones that plant and harvest according to local weather, the ones who feed their families and their local communities. Our biodigester technology makes use of organic waste, which is available in abundance in farms, and converts it into biogas for cooking and biofertilizer (a powerful organic fertilizer).
Sistema.bio offers its customers a package of training interventions, which focuses on the improvement of farmer’s tech skills, methods of maintenance of biodigesters and ways to increase the profitability of their farms. The company provides up to 3 free training sessions in the first year to promote the use of biofertilizer in green fodder production and to improve yields of suggested cash crops. Many progressive farmers are now trained to channelise their biogas to produce electricity every day for their small enterprises. Using our technology, many farmers have started different initiatives to increase their income.
The story of two agripreneurs
Two years ago, Arvind Kushwaha 44, who owns a small dairy farm with 200+ livestock in Raisen, Madhya Pradesh, installed a Sistema.bio digester with 35m3 capacity in his dairy farm. His prime interest was to save fuel on cooking and save expenses on chemical fertilizer purchase. With training support from Sistema.bio on expanding the use of gas and biofertilizer for agriculture, now Arvind has taken a leap in making his farm productive and sustainable.
His digesters now produce enough biogas per day for cooking for 8 farm labour households, 1 commercial burner for heating cattle food mixture, gas for his family and intermittently generating electricity for his farm from biogas. This way he saves about Rs. 1,70,000 (US$ 230) every month by use of biogas.
On other hand he has received training from Sistema.bio on the use of biofertilizer generated from biodigester for improving yield of field crops. He applies biofertilizer to his 100-acre farm where he cultivates rice in Kharif and wheat in Rabi season and saves around Rs.6,00,000 (US$8170) per year by reducing purchase of chemical fertilizers. There is a 30% increase in his wheat production per acre which motivated him to lease another 200 acres of land for cultivation, which has now made him the largest supplier of cereals in the area.
The training on biofertilizer made him realise the potential of selling biofertilizer to other farmers, and soon he started selling filtered biofertilizer at a premium rate in his area of influence. His entrepreneurial drive did not end there! He established market linkages, thus creating the demand for his supply. Today he is the best known producer and supplier of grains in his community. He continues his journey of self-reliance with his Sistema.bio digester while protecting the environment for a larger cause.
Dileep C is an upcoming farmer from Karnataka who owns 4 acres of land with coconut cultivation and lives with his family of 5, in Mandya district. He had a comfortable income from direct sale of milk and sale of coconut every year which qualified him to become a small-time farmer entrepreneur. His driving force was his self-belief that he can do better for the society and himself. He installed a 6m3 biogas digester from Sistema.bio in 2018 and received a lot of technical and agronomical support from Sistema.bio trainers.
All this helped him build his 4-acre farm to turn it into a potential profit-making venture, driven by high volumes of output. Today, his small enterprise is selling 18,500 coconuts in a year as compared to only 2,750 coconuts when he did not have the biodigester installed. He is moving up the value-chain with organic coconut production, to meet the growing demand from nature lovers.
The use of biofertilizer has reduced his chemical fertilizer intake amounting upto Rs 25,000 (US$ 335) per year and his net income has increased from a meagre Rs. 75, 000 to Rs. 3,00,000 or US$ 1,000 to 4,000 per year. He also proudly saves additional the cost of 4 LPG cylinders per month ever since he started using a Sistema.bio digester.
Going forward Dileep is experimenting with his biodigester to produce electricity for emergency use from his existing diesel generator. Reduced risk and the convenience of getting many services from Sistema.bio at their doorsteps have enabled farmers like Arvind and Dileep to gradually improve their farm income and showcase the path of entrepreneurship for fellow farmers.
At Sistema.bio we feel every ‘small and medium scale farmer’ can become an agri-entrepreneur. Farmers show a remarkable ability to adapt to new technologies that help them organize their farms in a new and innovating way. And this is the first step Sistema.bio takes to innovate its product offering and its training programs with an aim to create farmer-entrepreneurs.