A high-flying corporate career with a plum salary might be a dream come true, but not for this couple.
UDUPI: A high-flying corporate career with a plum salary might be a dream come true, but not for this couple. Hailing from Heggunje near Brahmavara in Udupi district, they abandoned all of this for a very different calling – the moo of cows! Today, they are proud owners of a dairy farm, with 40 cows and agricultural land back home.
Vikhyath Kumar Shetty, a software engineer, and his wife Nandanisha quit their jobs in Bengaluru eight years ago. When they began their dairy venture in 2012, they had 10 cows, which increased to 40 within one year. Vikhyath’s 40 milch cows, belonging to Holstein, Jersey and Sahiwal breeds, provide between 280 and 300 litres of milk a day. He supplies this milk to Manya Cooperative Society in Heggunje, located just 2 km from his house.
Vikhyath completed his BE in Computer Science from RNSIT, Murudeshwar, in 1994, and went on to work for an IT company in Chennai for six years, before moving to Bengaluru to further his career. Nandanisha, an MBA graduate from Mangalore University, also worked at a private company in Bengaluru for a brief period. A joint decision changed their life’s goals forever.
Reminiscing that moment, Vikhyath told TNSE: “Either I had to call my parents to stay with me in Bengaluru and make them adjust to the hustle and bustle of the city, or to ourselves shift to the village and look after them, and find prosperity in dairy farming and agriculture. We both chose the latter. The journey from coding to farming has made me a believer in calling myself a ‘boss of my own work’.”
Meanwhile, Nandanisha was also more interested in adopting the rustic occupation of dairy farming, than settling down in a metro.
The 10 acres of land that he had in his village was opportune for Vikhyath to take the plunge straight away. He visited many dairy farmers in Bengaluru to develop his own model. Low on funds to set up his dairy farm, Vikhyath had to take a loan of Rs 25 lakh from a bank. Once the farm began, he paid attention to creating its infrastructure. All this dedication has paid off! In dairy farming and agriculture, there is no escape from the mooing, dung and hard work, saysVikhyath.
What does it take to be a successful dairy farmer? One needs to be an animal lover first, he says, adding, “If a worker is absent on any day, I go and feed the cows myself. Matters like insemination, cleanliness and timely medicine factor a lot.” Vikhyath’s father Sudhakar Shetty, who also used to rear cows, also advises him. The grass is grown over five acres of their land, providing a steady supply of feed for the cows, and the slurry that gets generated in the cattle shed is diverted back to the grassland.
Apart from lasting contentment, the dairy farm has also brought favourable economic returns in its wake. To begin with, the milk brings in revenue; then the cow dung manure from the farm also fetches Rs 20,000 per month. Today, their 10-acre farm boasts of areca nut, coconut, cashew nut, red sandalwood, chikoo, banana and mango trees. Vikhyath also has 3 acres of paddy field, yielding about 60 quintals annually, which gives him and his wife the unique happiness of growing what they need on their platter every day.
The journey has only begun for this agri-entrepreneurial couple. Soon, they plan to diversify, producing rice rotis.
‘Government must push agri-entrepreneurship’
Nandanisha, who supports Vikhyath in his venture, says that entrepreneurship in the farm sector will really help prevent educated youth from abandoning agriculture and migrating to cities. “The government should support these kind of ventures financially with seed money schemes,” she adds, expressing her satisfaction in what she is doing.