Jayeshbhai Patel, a farmer and entrepreneur from Jhalora village in Anand district developed a symbiotic model that integrates agriculture and dairying through optimum utilization of farm mechanization to maximize by-product utilization.
Farming is a highly risky endeavour, with many uncertainties such as crop yields, price realisation, cost of cultivation, and inclement weather built into the occupation. Despite these recurring risks, Jayeshbhai took up the challenge of farming on his 5 acres of land, after working as a surveyor in Gujarat’s revenue department for 14 years. Soon, he realised that he would need allied activities to sustain the farm financially, and thus began experimenting with dairy farming on his land as well.
Learning and experimentation in dairy farming
Jayeshbhai took a loan of Rs 7 lakh from the Central Bank of India and purchased 10 cows of Holstein Friesian breed. He received training from National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to gain more technical knowledge about dairying and animal husbandry. As a result, he found ways to cut the cost of fodder and other nutritional supplements by making feed mix from his farm produce. Through constant experimentation with various types of feeds and veterinary medications, he managed to stabilise production while maintaining the required nutritional value. He was able to repay the loan in 2 years and invested in purchasing an automated drinking water mechanism, milking machine, chaff cutter, and a dry grinding mill machine. He further expanded his arable land from 5 to 12 acres.
Innovative Revenue Stream and Market Access
Jayeshbhai relies on the sale of milk and cow dung powder as a major source of income. He designed a machine that extracts water content from the cow dung (approx.70 percent of water) resulting into 30 percent of the dry fiber which can reach up to approx. 250 kg of fiber and 600 liters of slurry per day. This fiber can be used as manure on the farm and even for making decorative items like idols, planting pots, seed blocks, dhoop sticks, and incense sticks. He sells the fiber for Rs 200 per 40 kg to the farmers, and currently, there are 25-30 farmers from nearby villages who regularly purchase fiber from him. He also has vendors from fiber Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Nasik, Bhopal. He is optimistic about the growth of dried cow dun market. Additionally, he has installed a cooling system (using 3 large cooling fans) and a grooming facility as he believes “Gaye Jitni Khuli Rahegi, Khush Rahegi, Jugali Kargi, Utna badhiya output degi” The more cow stays in open environment, they will be happier and give a better output"), etc.
Jayeshbhai also started a manufacturing unit in Anand, to make these machines available to other farmers. He is supported by an agri-practioner Mr. Himanshu Bhatt, who manages the factory and promotes natural farming through dung based manure. He has been attending seminars, exhibitions, and expos to engage in discussions and learn from other innovative practices.
An interdependent model
Jayeshbhai’s model of farming has created mutually supportive entities and processes. He grows green fodder on three acres and utilises rest of the land for producing cash crops like tobacco and paddy. The by-products from dairy are utilised as manure for crop cultivation. As a result, he is able to save on input costs and has reduced the application of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers on the farm.
Currently, he is experimenting to practice 100 percent natural farming on 1 acre of land to grow green vegetables. Aware of the trade-offs between labour, time and money, he believes that following natural farming practices with absolutely no chemicals is only convenient for crops that require less harvest time (2 - 5 months). He further emphasises, on the fact that,“farmers are neglecting the potential of cow dung as a valuable asset to sell or utilize in various ways. Only milk as a revenue stream cannot sustain a dairy farm. We need to look at a holistic model by ensuring the utilization of every possible entity involved in it.”
Currently he owns 20 cows at his farms which results in approx. 250- 300 liters of milk every day (varies based on the season). The average input cost lies within the range of Rs 250-350 per cow per day, while farm generates about Rs. 12000-15000 per day. Apart from the revenue from the dairy activities he also produces 120 quintals of paddy and 20 quintals of tobacco annually. He sells 5-6 bags (40 kg/bag) of dry manure daily at Rs. 200 per bag and 500-600 liters of slurry at Rs. 1 per liter.
Recognition of his work
Over the course of two decades, Jayeshbhai’s work has been widely recognised. He received the Best Farmers Award at the District Level in 2011-12, and Gujarat State Level Best Farmer Award in 2016-17. In 2023, Jayeshbhai Patel was honored with the prestigious Amul Best Farmers Award, reaffirming his status as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring farmers.
His journey toward profitability and sustainability illustrates how farming can be pursued with innovation. The choice of considering manure as a revenue stream and adopting an entrepreneurial approach (taking loans, diversifying farm practices, and taking calculated risks), have significantly benefited his business. Jayeshbhai's model of mutually supportive practices is worth emulating for those seeking increased income from their farms.
Ankit Kumar is a Research Associate in the Living Farm Incomes (LFI) project at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA).