Recently, in 2021 a hike in the milk prices by reputed dairy brands such as Amul, Mother’s Dairy, etc., raised distress among the common masses since milk is the most consumable beverage in India. A probable reason for this hike in milk price can be attributed to a shortage of green fodder.
India’s milk production accounts for one-fifth of world milk production, so is its livestock population. However, the fodder supplies have been inadequate to suffice the increasing cattle population.
According to a report titled ‘Revisiting National Forage Demand and Availability Scenario’ from Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, the fodder deficit is upto 29 percent in the availability of feed including fodder. Ideally, for an existing livestock population of 535.78 million around 14-17 percent of land should be dedicated for cultivating fodder, whereas only 4 percent is utilised for the same. Moreover, the small and marginal farmers are unable to grow their fodder since they own no land of their own.
The report also reveals India’s livestock milk productivity to be 20-60 lower than the global average. The cattle feed alone constitutes 60-70 percent of milk production costs, which is why the dairy companies are hiking the prices of milk.
Realising a gap here, entrepreneurs Madhav Kshatriya, Amarnath Sarangula, and Feroz Ahmed took an integrated approach to solve the inadequate fodder supply to help the dairy farmers- by setting up Cornext.
What is Cornext?
Founded in 2015, by entrepreneurs Madhav Kshatriya, Amarnath Sarangula, and Feroz Ahmed Cornext is an agritech startup that aims to solve India’s green fodder deficit by becoming the country’s leading silage supplying company. Cornext’s major offering is its low-cost high-quality forage solutions and producing silage, haylage, and animal nutrition for dairy farms. Initially, it began as a 250 cattle dairy farm in 2012 and eventually has transformed itself into one of the largest silage suppliers in India.
According to a report from Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, the fodder deficit is upto 29 percent in the availability of feed including fodder.
The silage bale technology and the deficit of green fodder
According to the report from Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, India’s green fodder deficit stands at 11.24 percent. Moreover, scanty rainfall and erratic climate further widen the deficit of green fodder. To bridge this, Cornext is focused on developing a fodder ecosystem using disruptive technology i.e. silage baling to help the Indian dairy farmers. Silage is high moisture, highly nutritious, and ready-to-eat green fodder produced under natural fermentation i.e. anaerobic conditions in a silo, hence the name. Silage ingredients comprise grass, corn, maize, and other crops that are chopped into small pieces and stored. After the silage is stored it undergoes fermentation in multiple phases and takes around three weeks for completion. The process of fermentation improves the dry matter intake and creates an easily digestible feed.
Baling is wrapping compacted and inoculated grass in polypropylene sheets. The sheets should provide an airtight environment for the silage so that the fermentation of the grass occurs without oxygen.
This green fodder can be preserved for days in case of prolonged droughts or sporadic rainfalls, the supply of green fodder to the cattle will not be disrupted.
The making of fodder entrepreneurs – Cornext’s franchise model
Cornext is encouraging the rural youth to become fodder entrepreneurs by introducing its franchise model in the animal nutrition space. Through this model, it is introducing e-commerce to the doorstep of the dairy farmer through its e-marketplace FeedNext- a mobile app that will be a one-stop-shop offering low-cost quality feeding solutions such as baled silage, TMR (total mixed ration), fortified hay, mineral mixtures, feed supplements, etc.
The additional advantages of the rural entrepreneurs associated with this model will be to get a buy-back guarantee for three years and receive training and technology support.
What lies ahead for the agritech startups wanting to foray into fodder supplies and management?
A report from the National Nutrition of Animal Nutrition and Physiology finds that India’s green fodder will be a 40 percent deficit by 2025. Therefore, the Government is taking efforts to ensure that the livestock sector emerges as a more inclusive and sustainable agriculture system. Currently, disruption in the fodder sector is essential to ensure that milk productivity is not hampered, therefore such kind tech disruptions in the fodder supplies will be highly welcomed.