Anand, a poultry farmer from Chowkanahalli in Karnataka, is better off today than he was a couple of years ago. Things have been changing for the better since he chose to be a part of the integrated farming system, thereby striking a balance between ecological and economic demands.
One of the biggest advantages of working under an integrated farming contract is the relief from emotional and financial stress impacting most farmers across India who continue to make do with traditional poultry farming practices. Farmers like Anand often have little choice but to work with chicks that are tough to raise and have a high mortality rate.
This, in turn, has a volatile impact on produce quantities, capital investment, profits, and the quality-of-life farmers can afford for their families despite putting in the effort. These struggles have been the way of life for most Indian farmers owing to the uncertainties related to poultry farming and market demand dynamics.
However, the scenario is slowly changing. Over the last decade, the meat and poultry industry has undergone a massive makeover, with organized players positively impacting the farming community. For instance, as a farmer working with Nandu’s, Anand has access to an intelligent ecosystem that minimizes demand and pricing fluctuation risks, while exposing him to better yield and sustainable farming with good quality chicks, nutritious feed, and state-of-the-art logistics, among other benefits.
Unlike in the past, when farming families were wary of giving up ancestral wisdom for modern technology, today social media and smartphones are making it easier for farmers to understand and adapt to a changing market reality. The emergence of brands that understand the importance of an end-to-end controlled value chain is also a definite advantage.
Moreover, incentives by the government for farmers who adopt modern technologies and achieve higher productivity are helping them get past traditional barriers, such as limited capital, lack of adequate knowledge of long-term impact, and profitability challenges. Today, Indian farmers are making inroads into a discerning consumer market by adopting newer practices without incurring debts.
Collaborating for success
Integrated farming contracts with meat brands are allowing farmers to build a loyal base among consumers who only buy from brands they trust. This is setting them up for exponential empowerment, financially and socially.
Traditionally, a majority of Indian consumers buy their meat from local, unorganized players, owing to lack of access to affordable, quality meats. However, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for safe, healthy, and quality meat from brands that offer transparency and reliability. Today, there is a huge untapped market awaiting stakeholders that align themselves to such economically resilient food chains.
It’s heartening to see an increasing number of poultry farmers leverage the potential of integrating technology with agriculture by partnering with brands that are focused on greater accountability. Right from hatcheries, farms, and feed mills to processing centers, cold chain infrastructure, and retail stores, brands that strive to completely manage the value chain are the ones who will create high growth opportunities for farmers.
So far, meat brands that manage farm-to-fork operations with complete accountability have been successful in ensuring that integrated contract farmers are exposed to zero risk. While the farmers bring in their labour and infrastructure to the table, the brands handle the vagaries of the market and factors affecting production efficiency.
Going forward, we need to leverage technology to unlock intelligence that further aids farmers in producing yield that sets new standards in quality, freshness, sustainability, and affordability. This will require brands to invest in emerging technologies for smart automation, better inventory management, and data-based decision making and agility. The farmers will also need to invest in caring for more than poultry and produce. Farmers who remain invested in brand purposes will be the ones to witness rapid, sustained growth.
In fact, this alignment is critical if the poultry industry is to continue as one of the fastest growing segments in Indian agriculture. Unorganized stakeholders in the industry can no longer afford to ignore the lessons learnt during the pandemic – consumers want to support local businesses and farming communities that are aligned with their nutrition, lifestyle, environmental, and societal impact goals.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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