After completing our graduation, most of us tend to look forward to placements or opt for further studies abroad. Instead of addressing important problems that our country faces using our knowledge and skills, we avoid them in the hope that someone, someday would do something about it. And for this reason, no change happens as everyone thinks the same.
However, thanks to a few talented and innovative individuals like 29-year-old Nikhil Bohra, the prevalent and plaguing issues of our country get addressed and relevant solutions are created and at the same time, common people are benefitted as well.
Start-up idea from a simple project
Nikhil was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan and then moved to Himachal Pradesh for a short period of time before coming back to his native town. Having done so, he was able to see both the worlds — one that is always brimming with food and water and the other that barely contains water and food options are limited. Being the son of a chemistry Ph.D degree holder made sure he never swayed from his academics and after completing his final years of schooling from Jodhpur, he completing his graduation in Biotechnology from VIT Vellore, in 2010.
In 2011, when Nikhil was back in Jodhpur, he came up with the idea of Project Cattle Mettle. It was more of a voluntary project to help local cattle owners increase the milk production at a lower cost. The idea was to maximize the use of local farm and forest resources to support better milk production.
A business model like none before
Being a biotechnology graduate, Nikhil saw that many of the lab researches did not ultimately result in any major breakthrough. So, he did his research on biotech foods and started working on a project on the use of local resources as feeds. It piqued his interest and he decided to delve deep into the sea of knowledge regarding the dairy sector and rural milk production.
After spending significant time on his basic research, Nikhil was confident that his model would mitigate the problem of low milk productivity, cattle rearing costs and unemployment, all under one single roof.
But people were not so convinced about his idea and Nikhil had to spend a significant amount of time to get people who had a similar mindset and goal.
Also, since the start-up was one of a kind, getting farmers to work with him also took a lot of time and patience. However, once he had tangible results, his team received the funding they required under Invent program funded by GOI and DFID and got incubated under Startup Oasis, Jaipur.
How does this project work?
Each year tonnes of farm waste are burnt off. Tonnes of grains and vegetables are left to rot either due to poor logistics and storage or merely due to an excess yield. This results in low cattle feed and the deficiency is more evident in drier parts of the country like Rajasthan. So Nikhil and his team decided to bridge the gap between the excess waste generated and the deficient cattle feed.
“Cattle Mettle is a triple bottom line company venturing into cattle feed production from farm, forest and urban wastes. We focus on manufacturing low-cost, high-quality concentrate feed and silage for cattle. With a direct link to farmer-producer organizations in western Rajasthan (India), our potential network can span up to nearly 2000 registered farmers,” says Nikhil in an exclusive interview with KenFolios.
Benefitting both animals and humans
From a 20 percent increase in milk production in their pilot project to creating livelihood for the unemployed and up-cycling food waste, Project Cattle Mettle has been making a gradual and sincere impact in its domain ever since its inception. With this program, a dairy farmer is able to earn Rs 65 (1 USD) per cow each day, while saving at least Rs 325 (5 USD) in feed cost per cow each month. Hence, with this sort of an approach, Nikhil has not only managed to address the problem of India’s poorly-fed livestock, he has also created 16 direct and indirect jobs in waste collection, processing and logistics.
Currently functional in Jodhpur and Pali districts of Rajasthan, Nikhil aims to expand Project Cattle Mettle to Jaipur and eastern Rajasthan within the next three-six months. In the near future, he also wants to roll out specialty feed products for cattle and scale to different products across poultry, pig and aquaculture and enter the African and Chinese markets.
His innovative approach towards addressing India’s livestock issues didn’t go unnoticed and this year, he was included in Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2018.
Individuals like Nikhil show us that there is never a dearth of placements, for there is never a dearth of problems. If coupled with a never-ending energy and zeal to create a difference, anyone can be successful in this planet if they look into a problem deep down and create a difference at the grassroots level.
He could have gone ahead just like anyone else and got a placement in a multinational company. But instead he decided to tackle India’s major problem of low cattle feed and turned it into a profitable business, and at the same time reduced wastage of food materials and created jobs for the unemployed.
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