To make agriculture project financially sound, we need two things –
Reduction in the cost of Input
More income from sales
Mitigation of losses
Lets discuss reduction in the cost of input –
The major input costs in farm are – seeds, manure & labour. We decided to bring down the cost one by one. As discussed in this post, our cost of manure is almost zero. We will try and use seeds from our own farm starting from year 2. We already discussed bringing down cost of labour in this post.
What does that leave us with?
Input cost for dairy – mainly cattle-feed. We decided to grow fodder crops for the cattle.
So now that we had decided to have cows, we were looking to optimize the yield, and we came across the concept on Biogas plant.
What is a biogas?
Biogas refers to a mixture of different gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste. Biogas is a renewable energy source.
In our case – we have decided to use cattle waste and agricultural waste.
What is Biogas plant?
A biogas plant is the name often given to an anaerobic digester that treats farm wastes or energy crops. It can be produced using anaerobic digesters (air-tight tanks with different configurations). During the process, the micro-organisms transform biomass waste into biogas (mainly methane and carbon dioxide) and digestate.
Why is it useful?
Biogas can be used for electricity production, for cooking, heating, etc
In addition to this, the slurry that is generated, is a very fine manure and can be directly (or after processing) applied to farms.
When I say labour has become expensive, it is from an agricultural point of view. From an individual perspective, I am very happy that finally people are getting paid well for the strenuous physical labour. So for further discussion, labour (being defined as expensive) is discussed as an input cost for agricultural production.
So how do we go about solving this problem? There is just one answer – mechanization. technology has over the years made our life simpler, easier, efficient and productive. There are number of farm machinery and equipment. Its just not the ease of doing strenuous physical job, but also being able to ascertain the quantum of work that would be carried out in a day.
I had my second concept in place – application of maximum farm mechanization.
So here I was, studying everyday bit by bit about agriculture, trying to understand and assimilate all the knowledge.
Now I had to develop an idea, as to how would I contribute to this sector.
There were four problem areas I had identified, I wanted to make sure that my model would address these issues.
The first of the many was land size. We all know that the average size of farmland in India has come down to 1.08 hectares (2.66 Acres). This has a tremendous impact on the productivity. (I know some of you would like to contest that. We will surely bring that up in another post!)
So the first of the many ideas in designing the farm model was the size. The bigger the better. Bigger farms facilitate better application of mechanization, improved efficiency and productivity.
It is not that small farms are inefficient, you need to adopt a different approach when it comes to small farms. (more about this in another post!)
So here’s the first thing we decided when we were building blocks for our agri model, we will have extensive piece of land to cultivate on.
Tim Griffin, director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, explains the dynamic simply: economy of scale. “As the farms get larger, it’s easier to invest in labor-saving machinery, technology and specialized management, and production cost per unit goes down.”