Agriculture & Food Security Development India Institute Institute 2012 Talk

This Entrepreneur Is Empowering India’s Most Under-Served

On an otherwise reasonable evening, more than 1,000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder, Colorado, for the culmination of the 2012 Unreasonable Institute. They came to see 23 ventures present their solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges.


Devi Prasad Rao, Founder of Arohana Dairy, shares how his venture creates highly productive dairy clusters by aggregating small women farmers and creating an ecosystem of support to help them grow. Arohana follows a simple, four layered process:

– More milk per cow
– More cows per farmer
– More farmers per village
– More villages per cluster

Arohana is a for-profit, social business that uses dairying as a fulcrum for rural rejuvenation and growth. We introduce small & marginal dairy farmers to commercial dairy farming, providing them with

-A fair price for milk in predictable payment cycles
-Constant counselling
-Animal feed and feed supplements
-Guidance on growing fodder and boosting profitability of their farms
-Access to cattle loans
-Assistance in cattle purchase
-Small farm automation, which would otherwise be unaffordable for the farmer
-Access to ethno-veterinary medicine (called EVM) free of cost. EVM empowers the farmers to render basic first aid and treat their animals using ingredients available in any Indian kitchen. This cuts their dependence on veterinary expenses
-Free access to veterinary doctors

What is the urgent social or environmental need you’re addressing?

India produces about 119*10^9 kg per annum of milk, with about 79 million dairy farmers each averaging to about 4kg of milk per day – 10% of global average and $1 per day per farmer! These abysmally low yields can be attributed to the fact that these farmers, who often cannot depend wholly on their cows, have no access to best practices in the dairy industry including basic hygiene and quality feed, and they lack access to steady markets.

Such small farmers constitute 90% of India’s dairy farming, pouring small amounts of milk and spread over a large area. At Arohana, we collect large amounts of milk from many farmers through village level milk collection centers (MCCs) and work with each farmer to move her up the value chain. Yields are trebled, milk quality improved and efficiency brought into MCCs. In an economy with rising prices, farmers are equipped to cut costs, not corners.

What is your solution to this need? Describe your business strategy.

At the heart of the problem lies the solution, the sheer number of people. The small and marginal farmers are increasingly unable to compete with the financial, managerial or technical competencies of a large farm due to the lack of their resources on all these fronts. By regrouping themselves into small self help groups, they are able to leverage their collective resources and therefore improve their yield.

About the author

Unreasonable Institute

Unreasonable Institute

The Unreasonable Institute arms entrepreneurs creating solutions to the world’s biggest social and environmental problems with the mentorship, capital, and networks they need to do so.