234 / November 20, 2023
5 REAL REASONS Indian Farmers Struggle | The Neon Show
This week’s episode is about The REAL REASON Indian Farmers Struggle as we welcome Shashi Kumar, founder of Akshayakalpa, to the Neon Show!
What Do Indian Farmers Want?
Why Did INDIA Become A Farming Nation?
Why Are Indians Antibiotics Resistant To Milk?
All these UNIQUE topics and more in this INCREDIBLE conversation. A deep dive into why farming is so prevalent in India & why it will continue to be a big part of India’s economic ecosystem… Tune in NOW!
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3 Lessons Learnt From Shashi Kumar About Indian Farmers’ Struggles | A Newbie’s Perspective
1. Buffalo Milk vs Cow Milk
Shashi mentioned that the feed efficiency (it refers to the output of converting livestock into desired product) of buffalos is about 2-3% better than cows. For example, if you feed 100 kg of feed to a buffalo compared to a cow, it has about 2-3 and sometimes even 5% better digesting capabilities! This is often a common misconception that cows provide more desired output than buffaloes when it is vice versa.
2. Lactose Intolerance in India
3. Shashi Kumar knows how to break down complex ideas
Shashi Kumar 00:00
Dairy farmers in India never makes money. It’s a cashflow system for him. He thinks he’s making money because it doesn’t count his labour. It doesn’t count his son’s labour. It doesn’t count his wife’s labour. To feed 100 kgs of the cow versus 100 kgs of feed to Buffalo Buffalo has got 2 to 3% Sometimes 5% that are efficient digestion capability. That’s the only difference between both of them. You stretch the technology aspect, stretch the economic aspect, forget the ecology, forget the diversity is a fundamental problem of farming in the country today. The reality is the farmer doesn’t have money. The question is, how are we trying to solve we are trying to solve it by doing cash transfers by subsidies, but not by solving the root cause of the problem. Consumers should come forward and holistically support farming and they should start questioning where is my food coming from? Who is producing it? What cost it was produced, how it was produced? how profitable that production is? consumer should ask these questions once you start asking these questions, companies will fall in line.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 00:59
Hi, this is Siddhartha Ahluwalia and welcome to the neon show.This episode’s guest has causes of enabling rule of entrepreneurship and wealth creation among small and marginalised farmers. He’s previously spent 13 years in Wipro Technologies. Today, he is the co founder of India’s first organic milk company. It’s my pleasure to welcome Akshay kalpas Shashi Kumar on the neon show. I would also like to thank the sponsors, Prime Venture Partners for sponsoring the neon show. Hope you enjoy it!
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 01:31
So excited to start a conversation. For my , for my first set, you know, I want to go back to your childhood. So if you can recall your childhood memories that shaped who you are today, what would those be?
Shashi Kumar 01:47
So you say a very typical, rural childhood, okay? The moment a boy or a girl is born, so in a farming family, I was born into a very good farming family with a very good land holdings. I think I went through a similar journey like any other kid in India, my father told day one okay, you should never get into farming.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 02:10
And why was that? Why did your father tell you not to? A lawyer’s son is a lawyer, a doctor’s son is a doctor. Why not a farmer want his son to become a farmer?
Shashi Kumar 02:24
So in my father’s case, it was very straightforward. Okay. He has seen some of the most horrible grandfather farmer Yes, my grandfather was amazing farmer and my father has seen worst of farming and you will become a lot of debts and he couldn’t repay he couldn’t give proper education to children all the things he has seen okay then of course he decided I should never get into farming-
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 02:53
How old were you when he told that?
Shashi Kumar 02:55
So I remember it’s a five six years okay in age okay very small very very small. I remember very well very very well I remember his mandate is very simple. Okay. Maybe when I when they become around 14-15 years of age then he discovered problem got quite good in math. His only mandate for me was physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology. You have to score 100 out of 100 That’s the only mandate nothing else.(Chuckles)
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 03:24
It was very clear with you from Day.
Shashi Kumar 03:26
Days of, they were very clear, my son should become an engineer.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 03:31
Back then you didn’t even knew what physics, physics was?
Shashi Kumar 03:34
So (Inaudible) my father wanted me to be an engineer because yes a lot of engineers in Bangalore okay and leading good life and he has seen his own life and in our thought his son Okay, would ever ever become a let me say farmer who can earn decent money Yeah. Okay. As simple as that. That’s my first remembrance of childhood as I again, saying it’s not much different at all from any other child born in farming families.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 04:06
And in India, a population of 1.4 billion 140 crores 70% of the kids are born in farming families, which is almost like, you know, you can say 100 crores population isn’t a farming families. See, and no one wants their kid to become farmers.
Shashi Kumar 04:30
I Think that’s the matter of fact. Okay. And rightly or wrongly, most of our. let me say, things happening in the country right now encourages people not to be farmers. Our policies, okay, our, the way we say for example, I live in Tiptur. It’s a very, very small town or 150 kilometres from here, okay. In the middle of a lot of villages and lot of okay capacity building programs do happen okay? This is sponsored by skill Commission of India it is basically taxpayers when it gets invested to capacity will very good initiatives capacity building capacity for example if you’re a rural person okay I will come and teach you something okay or okay I’ll enable you to learn something maybe second pewters to teach that’s exactly what’s happening how to become a good call centre agent. How to Become a okay good Corporate Typewriter How to Become a good computer operator vocational training that can land your 10,000 rupees 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 or 25,000 Okay. I never seen a program coming to my village and saying you’re doing farming let us do better do farming. Why ?Because government also understands farming, okay, it’s not viable. So we need to give Okay, something else to for people to earn. Okay. This government’s mandate okay to get people to earn something okay. They’re doing their bit but definitely not in the farming part.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 06:07
To sustain a population of 1.4 billion right and you already have 70% of your population in agriculture. Why it’s so hard for government to make agriculture profitable for farmers? Every year farmer debts are Centerpoint farmer immolating themselves in Maharashtra in some parts of India. Why is not that a focus to make farming profitable for farmers?
Shashi Kumar 06:37
See Siddhartha the problem is little bit deeper. Okay. It’s a the question what you’re asking asking is a fair question okay. But the problem is very, very deep okay. The fundamentally the farmer is grappling with lots of things not under his control Okay. Rain is not under his control, soil is not under control, pests are not under control, market is not under his control. So, in the middle of things not under its control, how we can become successful. So what government has Okay very good programs okay for subsidising most of other things for example, we do a lot of input subsidies like for example when you get subsidised okay and also we do a lot of cash transfers okay to farmers amazing initiatives okay. I believe okay. That is making farmer more farming more unviable, more dependent more dependent Okay, on subsidies are required to certain extent and a livelihood stage but beyond that, what how do you shield farmer from Okay, some of the regularities simple example in India, you can’t sign a forward contract with farmer and get it (Inaudible) it is not possible. Okay, so now how do you expect to shield him from market problems? Farmers don’t understand forward contract is a right way of going forward. Yeah. Okay. But.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 08:13
Forward contract is farmer gives the right’s to his produce to somebody else for three years.
Shashi Kumar 08:19
It’s not like that. No, I’m saying no, let me say you are a company. Yeah, I’m a farmer. You come and say to me, Hey, you know what? You grow me potato for next three months at this price. I’m shielding that price for you now. Irrespective of what market happens? I pay you. That’s a forward contract, okay. We can’t enforce that on in India impossible not that’s how the structures are there. So the systems are.
Shashi Kumar 08:19
It’s not like that. No, I’m saying no, let me say you are a company. Yeah, I’m a farmer. You come and say to me, Hey, you know what? You grow me potato for next three months at this price. I’m shielding that price for you now. Irrespective of what market happens? I pay you. That’s a forward contract, okay. We can’t enforce that on in India impossible not that’s how the structures are there. So the systems are.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 08:44
Then why did. If farming was so unviable, and it was so unviable always, why did we become a farming nation in the first place? It will have to be viable at some point in history in India.
Shashi Kumar 08:55
Yes. So the answer is yes. Okay, if you just go okay, when population WAS less we are around 33 Cross population how many years ago? So it’s just around 75-80 years back around independence? Yeah, just before the Second World War okay. We were around 30 crore population. Yeah. And we’re fairly leave, leave out some of the famines we went through okay, which was beyond our control Okay. In early 90s, okay or early 1900s or 1870s. So, some famines we went through if you just leave out it is a fairly self sufficient system. But what did we do okay, what changed this entire outlook okay. The entire outlook changed the way we do farming okay. So we started okay. Seen in a farming now we as a development workers, for example, I consider myself as a development worker, okay. There are four quadrants to any farming okay. One is a technology. Other thing is a Ecology Yeah, okay, third one is okay you are economics. The fourth one is diversity. If these four are not balanced in a farming ecosystem farming collapses.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 10:12
What are these for going?
Shashi Kumar 10:13
Well for example if you say technology okay what is what is technology we get very good chemical manure is a tech. We get a lot of tractors. Yeah, it is tech. Okay I’m just giving a very simple examples. Okay, and, we need to morrow needs to make money. That’s the economics Yeah, but you know, ecology aspects. When you let me say simple example I’ll use ecology, ecology example if you do backyard poultry. There are two aspects to it. One is the egg which is protein source. Meat. Okay. Is it protein source? chicken manure, nitrogen source. Okay. You got it. So chicken manure is going to the soil and building your soil nitrogen to grow the next crop. Similar thing with dairy. Dairy gives a regular income. Okay, and what happens okay, the dung, you can build a soil around that. So these are ecological aspects of farming. Yeah, we forgot how did we forgot it. I’ll give you a simple example in our area where we operate Tiptur. Okay. When 2010 We like like Mad people we got out of Wipro and we told we will change the world. First thing we did was we did a baseline survey of Tiptur belt coconut. What’s happening? Yeah, cool. It’s a big Copra belt, sweet Copra belt in India. And when we surveyed okay, what the revelation is very damning. Coconut tree was producing 55 nuts per tree per annum. That was a survey data. Government data exactly matches with that. Then we were extremely curious what it was 100 years back 100 years back 1903 and 1905. There are two British day surveys. Pegged the coconut yield in that area 185 nuts per tree per annum. So what happened in 100 years? So to your question, this is what happened. We economised everything other quadrant I was mentioning, we sold the coconut, we sold the carpet, we sold everything that economised but diversity of managing soil we forgot we didn’t take care of the soil in under 100 years of farming a coconut tree which was yielding around 185 nuts per tree per annum at an average we all brought it down to 55 nuts. That is our contribution of farming. Ecological dimension is forgotten. Other aspect in the farming the fourth aspect is diversification of Okay. Your income streams you should have daily you should have poultry you should have beekeeping okay, you should have greens and vegetables. Okay, you should have coconut you should have fruits every day’s incomes every 15 day income every 30th day income every six months income every year income we forgot these dynamics. We got into monocultures This is where the problems
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 13:18
How did we get into mono cultures.
Shashi Kumar 13:20
See, Western philosophy No. So it’s very powerful. Okay, of we doing big things. Yeah. We blindly copied that’s how we started growing weeds acres together, removed all the biodiversity which existed, started growing paddy just it’s just monoculture killed us. And slowly then we got into a situation where we got into food shortages. We copied further western concepts. I’m not saying people who copied it wrong, but they solved a problem which was irrelevant at that point of time, but we never gave a thought what will happen now,
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:03
It was a short term-
Shashi Kumar 14:04
It was a short term thinking. We measure okay, what you call SOC soil organic carbon. It measures how much carbon is there in the soil. All the lines in India today, soil organic carbon is less than 1%. At 0.5% of soil organic carbon you declare lands as deserts.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:28
And what was it 100 years ago?
Shashi Kumar 14:30
So if you look at okay, one of the amazing book I read is agricultural Testament by a Westerner His name is Albert Howard okay, it documented Indian agricultural practices. Okay of 1800s and 1900s, early 1900s Beautiful documentation. soil organic carbon was anywhere between 4 to 6% now we have bought it down to this. We kept on giving chemicals, but we never gave the carbon back.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 14:58
So there’s a story How chemical came right I think we had a big famine somewhere in the 80s and 90s that’s when the government started a concept of green revolution started building all these government factories of producing pesticides.
Shashi Kumar 15:16
See the chemical farming is an interesting background okay. See that most of the World War after World War Two happen all the chemicals which are left what to do okay the concept started from there.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 15:31
So these were all the chemicals used to make bomb?
Shashi Kumar 15:33
Bombs Everything okay? They don’t know what to do. So, from there we started building okay can we apply for agriculture? So then start you started seeing immediate yield boosts okay.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 15:44
So the powder which was making bombs they started putting into soil side okay, but how is that viable?
Shashi Kumar 15:52
Now? For example, what are the fundamental characteristics of a soil, soil needs minimum 16 micronutrients it needs phosphorus, okay, it needs nitrogen it needs Okay, potassium, all the things that require the major ingredients of your chemical industry, okay of making bombs. Okay, now, they started seeing plant started giving immediate boost in productivity. So that is when Okay, we got into a real Okay, industrial farming of giving it strong chemical inputs. In 50s. A lot of documentation exists in by 50s 1950’s that the food ecosystem has already died. Okay. Rachel Carlson, she did an amazing job. Okay. She documented how the cancer is getting into humans because of use of chemicals. Her work was seminal. Okay. She documented scientific proof that our farming is okay getting cancer to us. Nobody listened to her. Okay.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:01
What was the name of the book or the paper she wrote?
Shashi Kumar 17:03
Okay, the it is a series of articles or a series of articles then it was okay. clubbed into a book called Silent Spring. And author name is Rachel Carson. Okay. Okay. Amazing work. She did. Okay. But we didn’t listen. She was an American.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 17:03
It is the same problem as Big Pharma right. Big Pharma didn’t want generic bricks to come in.
Shashi Kumar 17:26
So I don’t know what Big Pharma but I’m saying her work, work was amazing work. We didn’t listen. Okay. But we were running shortage of food here. Okay. We are importing lots of food. Our fathers thought yes, you know, we need to solve the problem. Valid problem. And of course, they adapted Okay. A lot of things Yeah. And we become food self sufficient. But over a period of time what we are seeing the soil organic carbon, we forgot Yeah. Okay, we saw immediate yield boost. Yes, of course, we survived. But afterwards what happened now we are seeing the farming becoming unprofitable. So coming back to our question, why farming is not profitable. It is extremely dependent on external inputs today. Without an external input, you can’t do farming. That is the root cause of the entire non viability of farming. You have to cut external inputs. So you need to teach farmer how to make his own manure in a proper way. You should teach the farmer how to diversify his farm, teach farmers to take care of ecology, then get the Technology and Economics will come. We are stretching that kite know what I told the four dimensional kite here. Were stretching on technology side, we are stretching an economic side. But it is collapsing. It is becoming flat. There is no ecology there is no diversity. Farms are becoming unviable. So it’s a fundamental Okay. aspects we forgot how to do farming.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 19:00
Through Akshayakalpa you’re trying to get these back into a system. You’re not innovating you’re just getting back-
Shashi Kumar 19:05
Back to the. See there’s no need to innovate nothing. Yeah, we have been doing that. We need to know prove those models. It can it is doable. For example, Akshayakalpa the concept of integrating diary into programme it’s very simple. The simplicity is farmer needs money. Yeah. Okay, you can’t say Oh, it doesn’t need lead, lead in authority, esoteric life. It’s not possible. Okay. Need an ascetic life? No, it’s not possible. So, what we need to do, we need to get put money in his hands, so diary enables daily cash flows, but dairy enables other beautiful thing is dung. Using dung can we make a maturity scale? That’s what we are doing an Akshayakalpa using that manure or huge soil management programme. So unmarried of an Indian agriculture scenario. That’s what we have done. How to manage is better we have pushed soil organic carbon in our farms to 3.5% in the last 13 years last 13 years it’s a very gradual process you can’t change it. The soil organic carbon is not constant due to action of Sun due to action of microbes due to Agra- action of various okay environmental aspects it keeps degrading you should keep replenishing so growing we should learn how to grow our crops we should put back as much dung as possible make better manure Okay, make better farming avoid as much tilling as possible. So, can we get okay into okay a lot of horticulture these are the things which are required to make farming really really viable.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 20:49
Today as every farmer at Akshayakalpa you have 200 farms right. And on average each of your farm produces one lakh rupees of output per month, right in which the output is made up of dairy is one which is milk and on milk to make various products like Paneer, Ghee right butter chach and all this the second is beekeeping that gives honey the third is grains also that you allow farmer to grow, fourth is coconut. Which are the other two?
Shashi Kumar 21:21
So we’ve got a we are integrated a backyard poultry. Yeah, it gives us the eggs, meat and meat also. Yeah. for their own use. Okay, we don’t sell meat, but we sell Eggs okay. And second thing is greens and vegetables. Okay. Okay, tender coconuts. Okay, Mushrooms. Okay, and Diary. Okay, and a lot of Fruits. Okay, we started a lot of Custard apple integration. Custard apple is a very very hardy plant even without rain it can survive it’s called Seetapal in Indian Indian folklore Okay, so that’s exactly how we have integrated these forms but huge tree integration amount of tree integration we have done okay is is each farm attend at an hour he integrated 2000 trees in hedges and bunds. So that the cross okay then the wind blows okay. serves as a barrier. And also they are vertical column of water. We development worker see tree as a what no need to build dams in our opinion. Keep planting trees, a plant goes up No, actually water is going up 80% of the tree is moisture. So therefore a tree is a vertical column of water taking water up. So that’s what we’re doing in Akshayakalpa.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 22:44
So one other topic that I want to cover with you today right? Is daily its in news that the stubble Burning has now made Delhi smoke chamber in which its people are unable to breathe even with air purifiers in Delhi this year 2023 The pollution is so bad. It’s at the worst every year is going is getting worst right? Stubble burning as a concept right? How did it originate? And are farmers at fault is government at fault. And what’s the solution?
Shashi Kumar 23:17
Beautiful question. Why the stubble burning is see this earlier we discussed a point a monoculture so just 100 years back our farms are extremely diverse. There was no one single crop at least four to five crops, six crops and crop residues were animal feed that’s exactly how okay we worked there will no need to burn a stubble so it’s a beautiful system existed. Okay, now what would you do we go to the monoculture now we don’t know what to do or post harvest we don’t know. So we need to get the lands ready. Now we burn it as simple as that why you burn burn it is it’s the easiest way to manage the stubble. Government is not recommended to burn okay government is government is telling lots of things to farmers but farmers continue to do it because it’s easiest but in my this my personal opinion it’s very easy to blame farmer but as a state what are we doing okay to change the situation otherwise reading some news report in Indian Express okay. It needs report all we have spent around 300 crores in subsidies okay to make a tractor okay appendix so where it can help you to “mulch” okay. The post harvest into soil okay Integrate that one into soil. We are given 300 Crore subsidy to for those equipments to be as an attachment to tractors. Okay to farmers wonderful initiative. Okay. But the report also says that farmers are stopped using it. So my question is why? It comes back to the kite which I was talking. We are focused on technology, we assume given technology means problems are solved. It is not. So that’s where the problem starts. Technology will never solve a problem. Technology is a tool. Okay to us to do things better. Yeah. So in my opinion, I would have spent those 300 crores okay adopted maybe 300 villages. And I would have demonstrated getting this entire stubble back into the soil, how I’m improving soil carbon. How would you do it? Just chop it and put back to the soil with the same equipment you get 300 crores subsidy perfect, but I’ll add up 300 villages, put 300 demonstration that in those villages, zero burning we will go deep into extension Okay. Farmer outreach program, chop that okay and put back to the soil and soil organic carbon goes up. What is what is a stubble is a is a carbon. Okay. What are the plants job, there’s a carbon in the air takes it and puts into our food. Okay, now we need to put get put that on back to the soil. And that actually what it does is amazing impact of microbes going up because they will act on the soil organic carbon and productivity of the line going up. So those are the things we should have been doing. Just rather than pushing the technology, saying that Ha, there’s an attachment or tractor you buy I’ll subsidise it. It will never ever ever work. So that’s how Okay, our some of the programs right now happening in the country. They’re driving in a direction where we believe technology will solve everything it will not. Technology will be a great tool, amazing tool, if we use it properly. With a proper extension intervention. When I say extension is a farmer outreach program, you go to where the farmer is, farmer should not come to you, you should go and work within his fields. Ensure these 300 villages will never ever burn stubble. And prove that given the stubble back to the soil as a positive impact on overall farming. Everybody would have adopted in last 10 years. It’s a 10 year journey. Overnight we can’t solve this problem at all. It’s a policy issue as a policy are we willing to make a change? It’s not about Punjab or a Delhi or whatever it is immaterial. It’s true across India. We don’t do we we are a terrible extension nation.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 27:46
What does that mean?
Shashi Kumar 27:47
Extension means a farmer outreach program where we a technology expert or a farming expert going into Farmer Field and working it doesn’t, that culture doesn’t exist in Indian we expect the farmer more to come to the- Yes, that’s the problem. We were spending a lot of money with the government spends a lot of money on agriculture extension. There are demonstration plots delivered Krishi with Nana Kendra’s there, okay, they’ve got case case Krishi Sambharka Kendra’s, so where farmer can go and interact, okay, they will try to decentralise it. But still we don’t go to his field. What is happening in the field? We don’t know. The reality is okay, the farmer doesn’t have money. That’s the reality. Okay. The question is, How are we trying to solve? We are trying to solve it by doing cash transfers, we are trying to solve it by subsidies, but not by solving the root cause of the problem. So that’s the that’s the fundamental crux of the issue.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 28:48
And today, you have called 1200 firms what and you think that what am I able to observe, you are able to solve this problem that is if you’re able to give today’s a farmer, one lakh rupee of income every month, through all the six pillars, you know, six produces that a farmer is able to make then the farmer can have enough food for his family can educate his kids and probably then marry of their daughter or son right. These are the only basic things a farmer wants in his life, nothing else.
Shashi Kumar 29:28
See, I think, again, we are over simplifying. So the what is the power of city lights is very big. You see is that guy in the city living better life? better access to health care, better housing, better travel facilities? Okay, better access to technology. He sees all those things. Not that he doesn’t see. That’s the attraction. Yeah. What we need to prove is same thing can be done in villages. That’s what is required. See when when when whe we what happens when we over simplify the problem okay I think we will end up solving wrong wrong wrong okay. So therefore you need to understand he has got the same desire he has got the same okay aspects of a city dweller. He is not much different, but what have we done okay without telling explicitly to the farmer to we are migrating him out of villages okay he migrates out of the villages with less skills than a city dweller. Yeah. So when he comes here his frustrations grow so, He’s neither satisfied there okay nor he is able to make progress here. That is creating bigger vein bigger problem. So, this is farmers fundamental problem. Okay. So the question is how do we solve it? It requires a great what is an extension work? We need to learn to go to farmers and work with their problems rather than superficial understanding those issues and trying to make solutions. Like I told the technology stretch is a too much of a stretch. Okay, economic stretch is too much of a stretch and diversity. Okay, and ecology is forgotten.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 31:12
And you mentioned in a conversation that 30% of Akshayakalpa farmers today are said they have gone to the city lived as cab drivers and our coming back. Why is that?
Shashi Kumar 31:27
See this interesting question you asked? Why is that? All the cab drivers in say I only know Bangalore City to certain extent Chennai, and to a certain extent Hyderabad. Okay, where our market is there. Most of the cab drivers when you get into a cab Ola or Uber or ask them where did they come from? They name the village. So they are the people with whatever little landholding, one acre two acre, three acres, five acres. They realise it is not viable. So raise some money, get a cab, get into city, drive a cab, they hope to make some money and get back. Yeah, but that never happens. Because you know how much money you can make in a cab. Okay, end of the day, when you buy a cab. What is left after paying EMI is the end of this one. Or after five years if you pay the cab if you sell whatever money he makes. Yeah, that’s what is the money he makes? He knows that. Okay, so the question of why Okay, is again, farming is not viable? is moving out of farming? This all is an indication. So is it life is better outside? No, but definitely better than farming. At least you can see some monthly income here. Farming that is also not guaranteed. There are a lot of challenges.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 32:55
You mentioned about dairy farming, right? It’s why it’s such an important part of a Akshayakalpa farms that gives daily income, then why are there not many farmers resorting to dairy farming? Why are they not producing more milk? More cheese more Paneer?
Shashi Kumar 33:13
See Siddhartha for all sudden done now we are the biggest milk producer in the world. Yeah. Okay. We produce more milk than any other country in the world. Yeah. So therefore all farmers are producing milk. Okay. But it’s the most inefficient way of producing milk. At an average government data says that, okay, 803k, 805 kgs. Is the milk production in 305 five days of lactation, and Cow gave birth to give birth to a cough. Okay, we measure that for 305 day she will give milk? Yeah. So at an average it is 800 kgs of milk. Yeah. Okay. And if you take a crossbreed program in the country, government data says this 1500 kgs per cow in 305 days. If you take Israel, they do 12,000 kgs in 305 days, per cow. US does 10,000 kgs you get us 8000 kgs. So you can see that gap, okay, is huge. You can actually scope for us to do better. But number of Cows we have is huge. Three animal population is estimated to be around 300 million. Okay to 400 million approximately, okay. It’s a huge population unproductive. Okay, so that’s the biggest challenge. So how do you get that heart to produce more milk? Yeah. Okay, same same Cows. How can you produce more milk? Feeding them better, taking care of them better, looking after them better. Okay. In literal, okay, sense. Okay. That’s not happening.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 34:59
How much is Akshayakalpa cow producing?
Shashi Kumar 35:02
Akshayakalpa at an average is producing 3000 kgs in a lactation, almost double the national average. So that’s what we have done. Amazing feeding programs we have done, forward programs we have done. Calf rearing programs we have done. And total mixed ration. Okay, how do we, okay, do a TMR for dairy animals 13 years of probably world class research we have done okay in organic.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 35:26
But Akshaykalp is still not equal to Israel or US?
Shashi Kumar 35:29
No, it will take time. So a lot of issues. The germ plasm what we have what we call is a germ plasm that is genetics of a cow, what we have is not tuned to produce that amount of milk. Yeah, okay, first problem. Second problem, let us assume genetics exists for time being we import some of their cows. No, that’s the secondary but even the genetics exists, our feeding practices are very bad. We don’t feed the cows properly, but at Akshayakalpa. We are doing it but we are still not there. Okay. So that is a continuous process. You keep improving the feed and fodder what you’re giving to the cow over a period of time. So we also started with three kgs of milk per cow per day. Right now what an average utricle per cow produces 10 kgs of milk. Okay, per day per cow. So in 13 years from three to 10 There’s a journey Yeah. Okay. I’m talking what we call as (Inaudible). So how do we change it? So to your question, why is a dairy farming profitable? Okay, let’s answer that question. No. Because of these inefficiencies, dairy farmer in India never makes money. It’s a cashflow system for him. He thinks he’s making money because He doesn’t count his labour. He doesn’t count his son’s labour. He doesn’t count his wife’s labor was problem. Second problem. He produces lot of fodder and his own farm. hE doesn’t value it. So therefore, you’re feeding cows something? Yeah, you’re looking after putting some time energy to that. You don’t count those aspects. You think what is you’re getting out of it is a profit it is not. So that’s the reason nobody wants to get into dairy farming in a big way. This is one fundamental problem. Second problem. Dairy farming in India is drudgery. Okay, taking care of the cow tying and tottering and moving. Feeding, okay. Lifting the dung on the head. There are a host of problems like this, where young people don’t want to get into farming. Yeah. So who is doing dairy farming today, people about 55 years, 60 years, these are the people who are doing dairy farming in India, we like it or not, that’s the fact. So therefore, two these two problems needs to be solved that is economics of a dairy farm we should see it is working out for farmer. Second thing is, we should make sure we remove a lot of drudgery out of it. Okay, at that dairy farm, if you saw these two, I think young people will start coming in. Economics is working. Okay, I can consider this job as a cool job. I can still work five, six hours a day, people don’t mind working. So you in a city also, you need to work seven, eight hours a day, 10 hours a day. But if 5-6 hours a day you can work and still do a good dairy farming people will come.So to your question. Today, dairy farming is not profitable, but it can be made profitable. So that’s the reason number of animals are going up, milk is going up. There’s not a productivity is not going up. There are challenges.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 38:45
And there were also cases where because of the injection given to Cow right. To produce more milk, it’s causing havoc in the ecosystem.
Shashi Kumar 38:58
See, there are a lot of what I call misinformation here. Okay. Technically, okay, if you really look at in Indian dairy industry in general. So nobody is going to inject an oxytocin into cow to produce more milk. No farmer is doing it. That’s the fact. Oxytocin gets produced when cow gives milk without the oxytocin production milk, if she will not let down the milk. That is the nature okay. But there are other problems in dairy industry. That is where the problem lies. We treat animals with antibiotics. Antibiotics come out in milk that we drink, then it makes us antibiotic resistant, fundamental problem.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 39:50
So this is also contributing to our antibiotic resistance.
Shashi Kumar 39:53
Yes, whoa, one of the biggest contributor is this. So the is oxytocin injection is what I told does not practised. Farmers don’t practise it. That’s not true. But abuse of antibiotics and dairy industry is huge and why these antibiotics use because I call fall sick. Okay Cow has got mastitis it’s a management problem. You inject antibiotics, if cow has a fever, you give antibiotics. How many times your fever you take antibiotics, you don’t take no? you just take a rest for a day or two, it will go maybe a week. Okay. And if it is a viral fever, it doesn’t matter what you take, it will take a week or so or paracetamol that yeah, whatever to just to remove. But that doesn’t happen to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. farmers themselves are injecting extension agents injecting veterinarians injecting and there’s no control over it everything comes down in the milk that milk is milk and okay consumers do is take it then that is creating one one very big problem. Second big problem in Indian dairy industries in from a quality point of view Aflatoxins is most of the cancer today okay is Aflatoxin.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 41:08
What is that?
Shashi Kumar 41:09
What is an aflatoxin okay for example. You feed a cow which is with fungus, some fodder and feed which is a fungus, it is an aflatoxin when cow takes the toxin the Alpha toxins come out in milk. Okay, there’s a carcinogen. There the food safety standards. Okay, guideline on what is the limit of aflatoxin? Most of the milk in that country is about okay, that limit.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 41:39
Why nobody talks about it?
Shashi Kumar 41:40
No, it’s not that people don’t see amazing work FSSAI had done to educate? No, you go to FSSAI website and see how much of literature is there? In terms of not the efforts are not there. Okay, but there are challenges. How do you take the pointer extension? I told you no. Same problem is troubled Burning. It’s not much different. How do you take this one okay to farmer, educate him. feed the way we store. Okay, for example, if you store in a damp corner, you get aflatoxins. how government can control it? You can’t Yeah. So therefore, we need to educate farmers. Okay, to get better practices, okay, going. Okay. In the dairy industry, it’s very, very important. The other aspect, okay, associated with that quality milk, okay, is are milking practices, one of the most horrible practices. For example, when you milk cows in India, cow dung, cow urine, cow hair gets into milk that gets filtered, then that gets pasteurised and it comes to us? Yeah. Can we do something about it? Hygiene in the farm is very bad. extremely bad. Okay. So how do we change this? So therefore, there’s a capital issue, there’s an education issue that okay, health issue, all the things we need to really combine, okay, to make this work. Okay, for a farmer and a consumer. Today, there are no programs in a country like this.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 43:23
And there is also I think, misinformation that the buffaloes produce more milk than cows. buffalo milk is more fat rich than cows.
Shashi Kumar 43:32
See the buffalo know, an amazing animal. So her feed efficiency we call it as a feed efficiency. It is our feed efficiencies around 2% to 3% Better than a cow. For example, if you feed 100 kgs of okay, feed Okay, the cow versus okay. 100 kgs. Of Okay, feed to Buffalo. Buffalo has got 2% to 3% Sometimes 5% Better efficient digesting capability. Yeah. Okay. That’s the only difference between both of them. Both the milk has lactose. Yeah, both the milk as fat. There’s absolutely no difference. Okay. It’s amazing. I mean, both of them are amazing source of protein and energy. So beyond that, rest of the things are myth. Of course, yes. buffalo milk has more fat. Okay, cow milk, that little bit less fat. But other than that, there’s absolutely there’s no different
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 44:33
The same kind of nutrition. Yes. So, how do farmer choose whether I want to have a cow in my dairy or a buffalo in a dairy.
Shashi Kumar 44:41
So it depends is the region specific characteristics. For example, in Tiptur area there are no buffaloes. If you go in and around Hyderabad is a buffalo belt. If you go to North of Karnataka, it is a buffalo belt. So wherever we are a very tough environmental conditions. buffaloes were There more heat is there buffaloes are there let’s see it is their cows are there okay. So, this is exactly how the animals got adjusted to agro climatic conditions so that we need to really understand so it is not that okay you can read everything everywhere it is not possible so therefore they slowly are just okay under those conditions and that areas farmers start seeing that this is responding better okay let me start working with it that’s how it is. So the other than agro climatic region, agro climatic conditions, there’s no other no other reason for these to exist in different different areas.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 45:43
And in our religion, cow is considered holy buffalo is not considered holy. Are there any facts to it?
Shashi Kumar 45:50
See to be honest No. Okay, if you take a cow as a story it has been amazing okay companion to the man. Yeah. From ages okay. The companionship come from what it has been giving us protein. Yeah, it is game been giving us milk. So that’s how the companionship was briefed here. Okay, when you looked after her, she was quite common. Yeah. So, the relationships should stop there. Associating anything beyond that now is imagination, okay. Yeah. Same thing with buffalo Okay. Buffalo is also an amazing animal, it has got better digestion capability of course, there is more to this extent and it can survive in tough conditions. So, it can give fat and protein for us. The relationship be like that’s exactly the relationship was built Okay. How many years of okay agricultural background we have 10,000 years of history Yeah, not beyond that. So, therefore, we need not go lot back just 10,000 years. We started domesticating animals one of the first domesticated animal was calls so that they can give us meat they could give us okay fat and protein simple.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 47:17
And to the farmers right in India prefer buffalo more because they can after a buffalo stopped giving milk, they can put it for meat consumption to the to the butchery industry.
Shashi Kumar 47:29
No. So the buffaloes are preferred. See, most milk in India is produced by buffaloes? Yeah. It’s not by cows. Okay, so it’s not a wrong impression. Okay. But so this was a Korean problem wanted to solve. So, most of the milk in Europe was from cows, they’re usually they were able to powder it in a buffalo milk, it took them to powder it couldn’t. So therefore, we wanted to solve that problem. What are that milk can give it as a nutrition to our children. Okay, that’s what, that’s what a great man’s history. Okay, it’s from 50’s. Okay. So coming back to the buffalo. Buffalo is preferred, because she’s easy to manage. She can just go out and graze and come. Okay, and she still produces milk. cows need a lot more kale. So that’s the only preference. It’s not a meat preference. Okay, so farmers know. Okay, it’s easy to manage buffaloes very easy animal to man. You just leave it and it’ll come back in the evening.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 48:35
And Indian history, right? Or was there a time when the dairy farmers were like rich enough today? They are the poorest of folks, as you mentioned, right? Was there a time back 50-60 years ago, when this was considered a profession which you would like to pass to your son?
Shashi Kumar 48:58
See this? This is what I tell no monoculture problem. Dairy farming was not there. Farming was there. Yes. Cow’s part of farming ecosystem. There’s nothing like a daily farming 100 years back.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 49:13
Okay. This is a very new phenomenon.
Shashi Kumar 49:14
Yeah, that’s a (Inaudible) that’s what I’m saying that most of the problems today, would you inject so much antibiotics to cows, you know, their concentrated. Just 100 years back, cow was part of farming beautiful. Each farmer had one or two cows. Okay. He couldn’t take care of his protein requirements. Take care of milk requirements. If a little bit surplus was there, he gave it to my neighbour. Yeah. That was a beautiful system. So then what we thought by economising thing we stretched it.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 49:45
So industrialization caused all these problems?
Shashi Kumar 49:48
That’s exactly the root cause. We stretch the technology aspect. We stretch the economic aspect, forgot the ecology forgot the diversity. There’s a fundamental problem of farming in country today.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 50:01
The western concept of produce everything at scale that just destroyed the ecology.
Shashi Kumar 50:06
Exactly the point. Precisely the point, Siddharth.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 50:10
And you mentioned, you know about that the farming ecosystem for a farmer is just not the farmer who owns the land. It is the workers. Yes. And everything is getting destroyed. We’ll have your thoughts on that. Why is that happening? And how is that happening?
Shashi Kumar 50:26
So if you really look at a relationship now in a village, okay. It’s not my commentary what is good or bad, but what is there? Okay, there’s a landlord who owns the land Yeah, that landlord gives a gainful employment to people in the village. So that they are working there. Now for a period of time, okay, what has happened is this farming, which the landlord was, was owning the land is now farming is becoming unviable. What he did is stopped farming. My father is a great example. Okay, he educated his son told become an engineer. He never told me to become a farmer.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 51:08
And how many livelihoods did your father support?
Shashi Kumar 51:12
We are at any point of time. 10 People used to work in our family. Okay, at any I remember as a kid, I remember 10 people were there at any point of time. Okay, sitting with us working with us chit chatting with us. Okay, and cuddling us all were there. Today. He doesn’t do any of it. What happened? Did he sell his land? No, he has not sold his land. But he’s not farming. Yeah. So there’s the problem. So now this relationship is broken. Once a farmer stops farming, the dependent ecosystem gets broken. When a dependent ecosystem gets broken. The problem starts, the people start migrating, (Inaudible). Nobody tells them to migrate. But they’re forcefully migrating now. Because there’s no job. That’s the reason villages are becoming deserts. There’s no population in villages today. At least most of the villages where we work 50% of the villages doesn’t have a population below 45 years of age.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 52:18
Because there it is, and this is going worse in the next few years.
Shashi Kumar 52:21
No, I’m saying you can’t fault them. Every farmer wants to educate his children out of farming. That’s what he’s doing. Don’t farm get educated, go to city get any gainful employment. Every farmer says that like my father told every father is saying that.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 52:41
And we just want to explore you’re working in three states right now. You’re working in Andhra, you’re working in Karnataka, you’re working in Tamil Nadu? What is your relationship with these governments who want to either partner with you or want to give you money? For it unit national level?
Shashi Kumar 53:00
See, this is a funny question, at least in my opinion. Today, okay, when or one of the clusters in Tiptur, it doesn’t own it farmers and second cluster in Chengalpattu, district of Tamil Nadu. We started in August 2019. Okay, It’s the four years of work now so far. In four years, we are not even procured a litre of milk there. It is not even we’re not even procured a litre of milk there. Okay. Last four years, we have put our hearts out to change farming ecosystem. 4 years, we’re able to do 80 Farms. That’s it. 1200, Chengalpattu 80. Okay. That’s it.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 53:46
And both are villages or whatever?
Shashi Kumar 53:47
Villages go to village a similar setup. Go to villages identify the farmer-
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 53:52
And how many villages in each?
Shashi Kumar 53:53
One for one farmer per village, 80 villages now we work in Chengalpattu district. However, what we have done is actually the government’s job. What I call as an extension, outreach program. Government should not support us, they should do their job. Providing services to farmers Chengalpattu district, okay, has like Tiptur. Conception rates of cows are so low. When a calf is born first five years of her life, she’s not even conceiving. How the farmer will make ever make money. It’s impossible. So to answer your question, that government has a huge role to play, veterinary services, para veterinary services, animal welfare activities, better Okay, access to markets, they can do a lot of it. They need not really work with companies but they can create a platform where companies can build on top of it. But today what are we doing companies like us, we are going and creating that That is adding an additional huge burden on the way we work.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 55:03
You’re creating your own end to end ecosystem, right? You’re creating, you’re working with a farmer, your first three, four years are just trying to build that ecosystem with a farmer, then produce comes and then you’re also selling your produce under your own brand new direct or not selling your produce to somebody else.
Shashi Kumar 55:21
And so the work starts with setting up in research unit Chengalpattu district has a Research Unit, Tiptur has a research unit to learn local farming practices. Each agro climatic region has a different farming practices we have to learn that we just can’t want change anything what we want yeah, that’s the reason the diversity aspects ecology aspects, they’re very critical in farming. We have to fundamentally establish that, that takes time. That’s what we’re doing
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 55:54
And combined how many villages you are in today? Both the regions?
Shashi Kumar 55:57
Both the regions put around 1300 villages where they are now.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 56:00
And each village one farm?
Shashi Kumar 56:02
One farm. That’s it.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 56:04
Do you want to expand that or you want to take more villages into your?
Shashi Kumar 56:07
No. So we want to add we will want to continue with the same mission identifying one farmer per village we want to continue to do that. For a period of last 13 years we have built a pipeline of around 1500 farmers more in 1500 villages, but slowly we are adding them but we want to be very gradual. Okay, no, okay, what the call decisions which actually upsets okay farmer economics, we want to be very, very gradual.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 56:10
If you make one farmer rich and other farmer poor, then are they looking up to that farmer or the or the envious of that farmer and you?
Shashi Kumar 56:45
No. So, what we are seeing wherever we are done intervention, they have become a focal point in the village, a lot of people come and seek, for example, what has happened. Once we go to your village and set up on diary unit, a lot of people are copying that what are the daily practices. That’s what we want. They need not give milk to us. I’m perfectly fine. Their practice, they’re copying those practices. That is the whole purpose, what we are trying to do, go to your village set up a model everybody will copy because it is working. That’s exactly what it is.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 57:19
And I think earlier, it would have taken a lot of time for you to convince farmers to work your way. Now it would be more inbound?
Shashi Kumar 57:25
Correct. First 6 years It was a big struggle. For first of six years of our existence. It is a very big struggle. We didn’t understand how to feed a dairy animal in an organic way. Okay, so then we learned around 2016 or so, we learned how to make TMR total mixed ration. And we started okay experimentally long term order local folders to remove concentrate feed feeding systems out of cows, it took time to grow grasses. It took time. Yeah. Okay. And so therefore, to those 16, we used to just handle 2000 litres of milk. Six years, it just would produce only 2000 litres per day. So today we handle around 90,000 litres of milk. So the change happened, okay, but for success was a big struggle.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 58:17
One thing which I want to touch upon a thing, which we haven’t discussed is the increase of lactose intolerance in India. Why is it happening? See
Shashi Kumar 58:24
that, again, is a lot of misconceptions around lactose intolerance. Okay. You ask it why lactose intolerance? What is lactose? Lactose is an energy. Okay. So, in our Gut, the lactase enzyme exists by design. So what happened to lactase enzyme, if you’re not able to digest lactose, which is there in our Gut? So lactose enzyme, what happened to that lactase enzyme? Or food practices? directly leading toward lactose intolerance? So that is very, very clear.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 59:03
It’s not linked to the milk production.
Shashi Kumar 59:04
It’s not to milk production at all. The way we are leading our lives is what is creating lactose intolerance. By design, we have a lactase enzyme. Okay, it can be revived, okay. It can be easily revived.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 59:17
How does that happen?
Shashi Kumar 59:18
We have to take small quantities of milk, okay, it’s kill most of external food eating, start cooking at your home, all the problems will get solved. So that’s, that’s one problem. The second second aspect is how do we consume diary itself is very, very important. Okay. Diary is the cheapest source of protein known to human? Yeah, it’s the cheapest even cheaper than meat. Yes, cheaper than meat. Okay. So, therefore, it is imperative that we use that resource here. You know, what is the beauty of a cow? Cow eats something which is useless to us, that is grasses. We can’t eat grasses here. Therefore it produces. For us it produces fat and protein Yeah. So therefore we better mind our food practices get out of lactose intolerance and also is growing is no empirical data. A lot of people say it is growing. Some of it is okay driven by let me say assumptions on what is lactose intolerance? Okay, a lot of people say adults don’t need Okay, milk need not be drink very much important. Building your bones is a continuous activity. Okay, that’s got amazing source of calcium amazing source of energy. And that lactose is a slow release of energy. Can you believe it? We are willing to take sugar Yeah, okay, but we are not willing to take lactose because it releases slowly over a period of time. That’s the beauty of milk.
Shashi Kumar 1:00:11
And now people are resorting to other kinds of milk like almond milk can soya milk.
Shashi Kumar 1:01:01
It’s it’s a valid source of milk okay. But you look at the protein composition of a plant based diet okay and cow milk. There no comparison. Super cost one kg of one litre of almond milk is 250 rupees to 300 rupees in the market. Yeah one litre you get at 70 rupees in market milk Yeah, you compare protein profile is 50% better than the almond milk or oat milk. So Oat is important almond milk is important I’m not saying it is not but you compare yeah so then you make an objective decision rather than okay taking a call on Okay Dairy’s bad.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:01:40
And the other thing is the practices of how dairy is transported. Now it comes in plastic is it good because a lot of I think plastic gets mixed while transporting.
Shashi Kumar 1:01:52
It’s not. See the packing material is fairly safe okay, it’s a food safe packing material. But after consumer using it what are you doing with that pack is important. Can we collect that one responsibility cycle it that is critical? I don’t think okay milk packing is getting into any food no material is fairly safe. But once a consumer uses you should learn to collect the toned bag recycle it rather than sending it to landfills.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:02:21
The last thing that I want to discuss with you is organic versus inorganic farming historically there was no concept of organic farming it was all there was zero pesticides in the food that we produced and the manure was natural cow dung and what you mentioned right, slowly and steadily we started pesticides and almost 90% of the food produced in today’s in India is because of pesticides right and that is leading to the concept of now can we go back to organic farming which is nothing organic adjust pesticide free rate please correct me for wrong.
Shashi Kumar 1:03:02
So yeah, so Siddhartha there are two aspects were talking here okay. In a typical farming practice, let’s see let me say conventional while it is a conventional in the lack of better word okay to grow okay food okay, you need okay nitrogen, you need phosphorus okay, you need ammonium, ammonia based and you need okay. 16 micronutrients Okay, small quantities. The question is, how do you get that one to the plant? Okay defines okay, what is organic? Or what is conventional or inorganic? Okay, that’s the fundamental difference okay. In an organic ecosystem, you believe microbes do the job. You believe nature can do the job for me yeah. But what is what you can do as a farmer to support those microbes is what is organic farming is all about. So, in a conventional okay or a inorganic method is hey, you know plants need nutrition to grow Okay, which chemical factory can produce it? Let me dump that one. So, for a period of time, what happens is there nothing like right or wrong whatever a period of time what we are seeing is a conventional farming What do you call it inorganic farming? That systematically destroyed our soils, soils are becoming more saline are extremely acidic, where plant growth is not possible without further use of chemicals. Why the organic production systems continues to develop the soil water holding capacity goes up, microbial load goes up, okay, and diversity in the farm goes up, this is the only two differences I can say between a conventional system and an organic system.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:05:14
Do the fertiliser and pesticides, they kill the microbes in the soil ?
Shashi Kumar 1:05:19
Yes. For example, Roundup, if a roundup can kill a plant, it will kill anything
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:05:28
What is Roundup?
Shashi Kumar 1:05:30
Interesting. So, let me say when you when you grow a crop, what happens a lot of weeds come to weed to remove weeds what you do you go and remove the weeds manually. Yeah. So now Okay, our technological innovation says that you need not do take a spray and spray all the weeds will die. okay to do that, you know what, you buy the seeds from me, which which can withstand around a spray? Okay to give one more example, let me say if I take a main seeds, okay, from company XYZ, I don’t know what the main okay. And that company tells you okay, what are the spray they should use to remove weeds? So, now whatever your what you’re growing now it is resistant to that spray? Yeah. So, therefore, what the company has built an amazing business model, they will give you the seeds, they will give the spray, yeah. Okay, they will give you the weedicide Roundup is a weedsite, okay, or a herbicide what we call, you just spray everything get destroyed. So therefore, over a period of time, the soil becomes bereft of any organic matter, because it becomes bereft of microbes.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:06:48
And today, how much of the country today in India is doing inorganic versus organic farming?
Shashi Kumar 1:06:54
Around 2% of other countries under organic cultivation right now, there are various statistics, some statistics do say it’s around 5% to 8%. Some statistics say it is 2%. But I tend to believe that 2% Part of it.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:07:08
And do you see in 20 years, that percentage to improve substantially?
Shashi Kumar 1:07:13
Yes, this can only improve, okay, only it can improve if consumers can come forward. If the consumers are not coming forward, nobody will make a switch. And
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:07:25
Let’s say consumers can say I’m ready to pay a higher price for organic that’s the only way to do it?
Shashi Kumar 1:07:30
No. Pricey that’s what I’m trying to say we tend to okay trivialise Okay, a lot of things in farming. We trivialise around price, it is not correct. You have to you have to really look at holistically your ecosystem is better. Okay, you’re getting a good health your biodiversity is better, good soils, good next generation. For that one, you pay cost. So that’s exactly how it needs to be really looked at. So, consumers should come forward and holistically support farming. And they should start questioning where is my food coming from? Who is producing it at what cost it was produced? How it was produced, how profitable that production is? Consumers should ask these questions. Once you start asking these questions, companies will fall in line if you take Akshayakalpa why are we doing this? Because consumers are asking us not the other way around. Yeah. Around around 150,000 consumers take on okay products every day. Okay in three cities. They are asking us this question.
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:08:53
In Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad.
Shashi Kumar 1:08:55
Yes. Okay. And they’re asking us these questions. Fundamental questions. And you know, last one year in Tiptur we got 10,000 consumers visit farmers. That’s the moment we need. Yeah, we need movement of consumers going and seeing where the food is coming from validated, then companies will wake up or else it is the dead end of farming.
Shashi Kumar 1:09:27
Thank you Siddhartha!
Siddhartha Ahluwalia 1:09:27
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