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Startups in Livestock and Agri allied sectors-Scope & Opportunities


Taking into account the importance of Skill Development, innovation and Entrepreneurship, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) a State University based at Pookode, Wayanad in Kerala ( is in the process of establishing appropriate projects in the areas of livestock, agri and allied sectors to promote Entrepreneurship, innovations, livelihood, productivity, employment and knowledge transfer. University launched a novel project called startup village through integrating different sectors to promote the production of safe to eat products in kole lands. At a time when food safety issues are emerging across the country, production of organic/safe to eat products with ICT deliverables will help to promote employment and sustainability in agriculture. University’s E Vetconnect and advisory call centres provide appropriate information and services as and when required. Entrepreneurship development and skill development programmes paved the way for establishing successful ventures. Student Entrepreneurship programme in the campus promotes entrepreneurship mindset among the students. University is implementing appropriate innovation based projects based on student’s ideas and trying to incubate and accelerate with appropriate deliverables.

Livestock sector plays an important role in rural livelihood, employment and income generation. Major livestock products like milk and milk products, meat and eggs contribute around one-sixth of the calories and one-third of the proteins in the per capita food supplies of the world.

Increase in cost of production reduces the profit margin. Animal husbandry is the second largest economic activity of rural India. In Arid and semi arid regions, livestock sector ranks first in earnings to skilled, semi skilled and unskilled populations. Animal husbandry is a growth engine and annual growth rate in dairying is 5 % and in poultry it is 10% and will alleviate rural poverty and uplift the rural farmer. If the country has to sustain economically, livestock sector has to be strengthened. The availability of per capita animal protein is 10.8g whereas the requirement as per world average is 25g. National sample survey reports that 70-75% of their food budget is for milk and milk products. The need of the hour is increase in production, productivity and improvement in the marketing channel. In the case of failure in agriculture, livestock sector forms the source of income and gives insurance to any intervals of agriculture failure. With regard to production and consumption of milk, it is a golden era in the dairy sector. Organized sector grows more than 10% per annum. Milk production is increasing in Asia and India and increasing prices are favorable to developing countries. International Farm Comparison Network (IFCN), Germany reported that India has lowest cost of milk production when compared to developed countries.

Productivity and Quality
According to recent reports 70% of Indian cows and 60% buffaloes have very low productivity. Average milk yield from local cows is about 3 to 3.5liters, of buffalo 3.96 to 5.39liters and of cross bred cow between 5.82 to 7.80 liters per day which is significantly lower than the productivity in developed countries. According to the Economic Survey, productivity in agriculture sector is far below global standards; India has around 300 million numbers of cows and buffalos in dairy production and is the global leader in milk production: about 135 million tones a year. But productivity per cattle is comparatively less. The best run farms in the world produce 1.6 kg of milk for every kg of feed, in India it’s less than a kg.  Scientific breeding, feeding and management practices along with quality inputs and extension support services are required for achieving better productivity. There exists a wide deficit in the supply of feeds and fodders countrywide. Strategic programmes are required for reaching out among small holder population for facilitating technology transfer and extension support.

Startups in Livestock and Agri allied sectors
India is emerging as a global destination for Innovation, Incubation and Start-ups and provides great opportunities. Government of India has come up with exciting programmes to support startup ecosystem and to nurture innovations and  launched Startup India action Plan for bringing in policies and frameworks that can support and nurture the start up eco-system.  India ranks third in Start up ecosystem after United States and UK and is emerging as a hub for innovation and has a large population of youth with untapped ideas. Innovations can trigger social change and solve problems faced by contemporary India. Bangalore ranks first in innovation and start-up destination in the Country. Recent findings reveal that success rate in start-ups are only 30 percent. International trading system, economic impact, policies, technology solutions and digital innovations are the major areas which facilitates Startups in the country. 

Agri Incubators are breakthrough simulation game that helps disruptive entrepreneurs to create break through innovations, develop stronger business models and entrepreneurial strategies. The presence of vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem is one of the key features of developed nation and a critical enabler for finding solutions to the regional problems. Precision agriculture, aimed at increasing productivity from the land is acquiring momentum across the globe. There are systems in which Irrigation, dispersion of nutrients and fertilizers are being done by drones which are emerging as third dimension mode of transportation.

While thinking of innovation we should keep in mind why we need to innovate? More than 52 percent companies among the Fortune 500 companies disappear because of poor sustainability. Need of the hour is to identify technologies which can be scaled up across the growing population. Internet of things, Sensors, solutions, transactions, transportation, online platform and social entrepreneurship are gaining momentum across the world. India is still an agrarian economy and has more than 50% of the working population involved in agriculture. This sector had shown significant fall in growth from 25 to 14%. This has resulted in widening of growth inequities between urban and rural areas. Improving productivity, quality of crops and value addition of agriculture produce would boost farm incomes and promote agribusiness industries which can provide gainful employment to rural youth. Innovative technologies will help to improve farm productivity.

Livelihood issues, Entrepreneurship, Food security and food safety issues, One health and public health issues, Demographic dividend towards youth and  Increasing consumerism are some of the recent trends in agriculture. Prospects for Ready to cook and ready to eat products are emerging at a time when Women are working as home managers and started outsourcing foods. Programmes to prevent Protein malnutrition with Consumer awareness programme have immense prospects for scaling up. The National dream is clean air, clean water and clean India. India ranks 69 in the world in gross development index.

Today youth is emerging as job creators rather than job seekers. There are ample opportunities for innovation in information technology and Biotechnology. In India services sector supersedes all other sectors. Now there are no services available in India without ICT or online. The number of internet users in India is likely to more than double to 730 million by 2020 of which more than 75 percent of new users would come from rural areas. Interestingly 75 percent of new users are expected to consume data in local languages. E commerce market in India is expected to double to 34 billion US dollars by 2020.The number of online shoppers is likely to more than triple to 175 million from current 50 million. By 2020 India will have an estimated 702 million smart phones in use and mobile phones will emerge as the preferred device for shopping, accounting for 70 percent of total online shopping. Two Billion people in the world are using internet. One Billion people are regularly browsing Face book. Power of innovation is changing day by day. Future business is going to be through social media. We will have to think of next generation IT solution for 2020. By 2020 consumer, expectations and innovations will change.

In India basic challenge is between automation and skilled labour, documenting Vs knowing and advanced manufacturing vs jugaad. Capacity building will create talent pool. Genomics, food production, health and hydrogenation are important. In the Agriculture sector farm to fork is acquiring momentum. 30% production loss occurs in agriculture sector. Innovation needs to be linked to market need. Learn and experimentation is more important. India has 126 million hectare of arable land. Cultivable lands are 185 million hectares. More than 50% land is for primary food production. Agriculture is the largest private enterprise. Initially it was ship to food or ship to mouth. Now it is aimed at self sufficient in food production. Innovation is changing in the context. Average Indian consumer is looking for convenience, quality and safety. Agriculture should focus on demand driven value chain. There are huge prospects for organic and safe to eat products in Agriculture, Dairying, livestock and allied sectors. Recently consumers realised the deleterious effect of foods with excess antibiotics and pesticides. It has been projected to double the income of farmers by 2022 which will facilitate technologies. Irrigation, soil health and water conservation were given due coverage in the recent budget. Organic farming has been identified as one of the key areas for sustainable agriculture. Value addition, connectivity to market and e commerce are some of the recommendations in the budget which facilitates market led production. 100 percent foreign direct investment has been allowed in e commerce &food processing sector. Innovation has volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity. It is the process of dreaming and doing. How fast we are implementing the dream is important in innovation decision making process. Cloud, mobile, data, design and flat world are part of innovation. Cloud involves architecture changes, open source and new business models.

It has been envisaged that by 2030 number of students in the higher education sector will increase from 30 million to 70 million with the GER of 50 percent. It has been forecasted that 23 Universities will reach the top 200 of the World by 2030. The coming years will witness spectacular employment opportunities in E commerce, Innovation, communication, new media, Business analytics, Entrepreneurship, cloud services, biosciences, Retail industry, Agribusiness and Food processing sectors. India needs to create 1.5 Crore jobs per year for the next ten years to provide employment to youngsters. India is second largest smart phone market in the World and third largest country for downloads in 2015 within the Google Play Store. 66 Apps installed per user, 23 used daily.

Mobile, the low cost technology with hi speed self service and fastest growth is emerging as the Flat world platform for distribution and monetization. There are huge opportunities for digital led innovations in marketing. It can be ICT or smart phone based. Digital led deliverables are required for knowledge, production and marketing since knowledge is production. In order to increase production and to increase productivity with market led approach startups with appropriate innovations are required. In agriculture sector success depends on integration or convergence of different sectors like dairying, livestock, fisheries, etc. Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University launched a novel project called startup village through integrating different sectors to promote the production of safe to eat products in kole lands. At a time when food safety issues are emerging across the country, production of organic/safe to eat products with ICT deliverables will help to promote employment and sustainability in agriculture. University’s E Vetconnect and advisory call centres provide appropriate information and services as and when required. Students need to think of appropriate innovation based on their ideas and to incubate and accelerate with appropriate deliverables. As demand increases start-ups in agriculture has lot of prospects ahead.

Institutional support- A case study from   Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University
Taking into account the importance of market led production including online agriculture marketing and National Common Agriculture marketing, Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University(KVASU) a State University based at Pookode, Wayanad in Kerala ( identified key areas of institutional support required to integrate small farmers to a given agri commodity value. University is in the process of establishing appropriate projects related to services, marketing, food safety and knowledge dissemination to achieve the same.

Conceptual model for knowledge dissemination, SHG & Women empowerment
Recently more number of women self help groups are interested to undertake livestock production as one of their livelihood options.   There exists a knowledge gap among women SHGs in the areas of scientific livestock rearing practices in scientific breeding, selection of animals, housing, feeding, management, disease control, value addition and marketing of milk and milk products. Interventions, which will help to fill the above knowledge gap is the need of the hour. As far as Women SHGs are concerned they are interested to adopt sustainable and affordable technologies that are available within their limits.      

Based on different pathways for knowledge transfer which already exist in the system, existing level of livestock information gained by the farmers, level of knowledge required for sustainable results and level of existing knowledge gap a concept model to fill the knowledge gap  was designed. Since Kerala is implementing decentralized planning programme at the Grama panchayat level the concept model at the Grama panchayat level will be an ideal platform for knowledge transfer, Veterinary institutions at the grama panchayat have acquired the appropriate strength for developing a concept model.
University identified the knowledge gap among commodity based livestock self help groups and devised a conceptual model for knowledge dissemination at the Grama panchayat level. KVASU is in collaboration with Worldwide Universities Net work and Global innovative initiatives are involved in implementing sustainable livestock farming practices.

24X7 Veterinary Services
Scientific livestock production can only be achieved through scientific breeding, feeding, management, disease control and marketing. University is in the process of implementing an ICT based deliverables for the Stakeholders. The project named e Vetconnect is involved in providing 24X7 Veterinary Services across the State including emergency veterinary services. E vet connect has advisory call centres, ambulatory services, knowledge portal, vetipedia, disease forecasting system, fodder management system and hospital management system.

Startups in livestock sector
This will pave way for augmenting livestock production. University is implementing startup project in livestock production through integrating Vegetable, dairying, Poultry production and fisheries sector. The objective of the project is to deliver safe to eat agri and allied products at a premium price. A separate farm portal has been devised for this. University is pursuing further for developing a new delivery model for providing livestock products and services at the doorsteps.

In order to promote Entrepreneurship University has a Directorate of entrepreneurship giving due importance to student entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship development programmes and technology business incubation. University is in the process of implementing innovation incubation project through startups. The desire for innovation in India has been driven by search for low cost solutions to public problems. Innovation is the application of new ideas to solve problems with resultant benefits to different stakeholders. Through innovation incubation, students can become employers rather than employees. Accelerating entrepreneurship and creating business are crucial for massive employment generation. Government of India is promoting start ups to scale up startup ecosystem in the country. There are 300 Government sponsored incubators in India sponsored by educational institutions. These incubation centres will convert the innovations in to viable products. Opportunity for startups was unparalled especially in the IT sector because cloud and mobile technologies have reduced the cost of doing business. Innovation in startup ecosystem depends on ideas, validation process and good partner relationship. Major steps in this process are laying the foundation, creating a challenge book, building participation,experimention with cost, speedy implementation, building innovation sand box and putting a margin of safety. In order to increase production and Productivity University is implementing productivity enhancement programmes through dissemination of appropriate technologies.

  1. Promotion of Entrepreneurship - Entrepreneurship development programmes will be planned and implemented through Entrepreneur-scientist-industry-banker interface. It can be scaled up across the country. University is promoting Entrepreneurship among youths through Young Entrepreneurship Summit in Dairying and Poultry production. Key areas include Entrepreneurship development programmes in Dairy sector, Dairy Business Schools, Entrepreneurship centres in association with milk Co-operatives, EDP at different levels for the stake holders and establishing appropriate Producer companies based on commodities
  2. Skill development programmes - Appropriate skill development programmes in livestock and poultry production will facilitate entrepreneurship ventures in a big way. Farmers, Women SHG members, Paravets, Veterinarians and technicians require appropriate skill development programmes. Some of the programmes include Milkobike, Value addition, Feed and Dairy plant technicians, Agriculture sector skill council programmes. Milkobike will facilitate to convert milker as milking technician and will facilitate scientific milking, skill development and entrepreneurship.
  3. Training programmes - University is implementing Trainers training programmes, Farmer training programmes on cow comfort and Animal welfare at different levels
  4. ICT deliverables for knowledge transfer - Mobile APP, Farmers, Entrepreneurship and One Health portal.
  5. Technology for value addition, Temperature humidity index monitoring system, Ration balancing and Ksheeraprabha
  6. Mastitis control programme - Thrust to detection of subclinical mastitis, Antibiotic bacteria resistant mapping, one health, Parasite control.
  7. Social media applications - Developing livestock based social media campaigns will ensure livestock based messages to reach the target audience and even more importantly, appeal to them.
  8. Documentation of successful models - Documentation of successful models in livestock sector will attracts lot of unemployed youths to venture in to agriculture. 
  9. Women empowerment through Self help groups - producer companies can be developed for the SHG based commodity interest groups.

Precision farming, Productivity enhancement & food safety
Precision livestock farming, area specific mineral mixture and promotion of livestock based commodity interest groups are some of the projects which help to augment production. Value addition of milk and meat are the areas which help to increase profitability through livestock ventures. Centre for One Health of the University is involved in promoting the emerging concept of one health and food safety. The Entrepreneurship portal of the University will act as an interface between entrepreneurs, producers and consumers so as to maintain the agri commodity value chain. Sustainable farming and market led production coupled with quality will help to integrate small farmers to livestock commodity value chain.

Publications & Informatics
University published 20 books and 20 Broadcastable programmes on Livestock production for farmers and Entrepreneurs. University has a separate farm portal and an official portal Recently University linked with the National Career Services portal to promote skill development programmes and pursuing further for becoming a partner for One Agriculture One Science.

MOOC and Smartphone based courses
In the changing Scenario University is implementing Move on to Open Online courses (MOOC) in potential areas like Dairy and Poultry entrepreneurship, food safety, food security, one health and entrepreneurship. Smartphone based courses of the KVASU on organic farming will help to promote organic farming practices across the country in a big way. University launched Diploma programmes as skill development programmes in the areas of Dairying, Poultry production and Laboratory techniques

(Dr.T.P.Sethumadhavan is Director of Entrepreneurship at Directorate of Entrepreneurship of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Pookode, Wayanad. Contact info-




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