Not much has changed in the IT industry since four software engineers quit their jobs at Wipro few months ago. But a lot has happened to the Kodihalli village since then. Shashi Kumar, Ranjith Mukundan, Venkatesh Sesasaye and Praveen Nale, gave up 15 years of high-flying careers and plum salaries to set up a milk dairy in Kodihalli village of Hassan district, Karnataka.
They have set up Akshayakalpa Farms and Foods Ltd, headed by G N S Reddy and T Prasana, who have been in the Dairy business for many years. Currently it has 21 partners, including the four of them. Their aim is to promote rural entrepreneurship in the agro sector and to create employment in villages. They hope to prevent the educated unemployed from abandoning agriculture and migrating to cities.
It is planned to take up organic milk and milk products production as an economic enterprise and to provide gainful income generation opportunities to young farmers. This will be the first organized effort for organic milk and milk products production of substantial scale in the country. The central unit will have facilities to process milk into various milk products such as ice cream, cheese, ghee, butter, curds and flavored milk. To begin with, 300 marginal farmers (those with less than 4.5 acres of land) will be selected within a 15-sq km radius of the village to supply milk. They will be educated on modern cattle-rearing methods, milking machines and, increasing milk production. The company will help the farmers get loans from banks to set up satellite farms and purchase cows. The milkman will sell milk directly to the company without any middlemen. The transportation of milk and regular medical check-ups of cows will be free for milkmen registered with the company.
Apart from regular operations, communes for single women under distress from rural areas will be setup up, to enable them to earn their livelihood with dignity. The first commune will be located at Tiptur, Tumkur district of Karnataka. There will be 50 women in the commune who will be provided with food, accommodation and opportunities for gainful employment. Enterprises will be set up based on the local raw materials and market intelligence. They will earn wages for their work input and also will be provided with a share in the profit (as sweat equity).
To bring in the technology perspective, each of the satellite farms will be equipped with sensors, GPS, pedometers and other equipment to monitor and trace the movements of cows, how much milk a cow produces every day, and to check the animals’ body temperature and keep tabs on their health. This data will be monitored by the dairy with the help of software developed by them.
All in all, the project is an excellent example of how technology can be leveraged to achieve prosperity in rural India. While this seems to be a sustainable model utilizing our vast IT resources, many more such Kodihallis are waiting to be explored by daring entrepreneurs and techies in India.