The Bengaluru-based omnichannel, farm-to-fork player harnesses technology and collaboration for sustainable development and environmental protection…
Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], June 14: As the world’s third-largest egg producer and fifth-largest chicken producer, the poultry industry in India has been one of the early adopters of sustainability. Progressive players have paved the way for eco-friendly and innovative poultry farming practices.
Counted among the pioneers of India’s poultry farming industry, Nandu’s has the distinction of being the only meat company with an in-house sustainability engineer. “We created the role to ensure that all our activities – right from manufacturing to the standard operating procedures – are in line with our green principles,” said Narendra Pasuparthy, Founder & CEO, Nandu’s.
From focusing on animal welfare and re-engineering feed programs (to exclude antibiotics) to investing in solar energy and smart automation, Nandu’s embraces a holistic approach to steadily reduce its carbon footprint. “There’s still a long way to go, but we are on the right path,” told the entrepreneur, who calls himself the ‘Chief Farmer’.
When Nandu’s started in 2016 intending to make fresh, healthy, and high-quality meat and meat products accessible for all, the Bengaluru-based company made a conscious decision to work only with passionate farmers who share their vision. Currently, 140 farmers are working exclusively with Karnataka’s only omnichannel, farm-to-fork player.
Nandu’s has a team of 25 employees who work closely with the farmers. They not only provide the farmers with feed, chicks, and support in growing the chicken, but also train them in good farming practices, provide veterinary services, and empower them with the latest technological advances in the sector.
“We have integration farming contracts to ensure that they are exposed to zero risks. The vagaries of the market and factors affecting production efficiency are the responsibility of Nandu’s, while the farmer brings his labour and infrastructure to the table,” said Narendra.
Nandu’s collaborative spirit has helped ensure livelihood, safety, and business continuity for the farmers, despite challenges posed by the pandemic. “We have succeeded in making poultry a good source of small-scale livelihood. We provide our farmer community with a sustainable income, which has helped them support their children’s education, family needs, and improve the quality of their lives,” he maintained.
Nandu’s was the first poultry business in India to implement automated feeding systems for chickens. The robotic feeding systems have facilitated cost optimisation, minimised wastage, and optimal efficiency.
Technology has also helped the company to empower farmers to stay agile and get the best yield as well as to ensure that consumers know everything about their food’s journey through the supply chain – from farm to fork.
“We have an operational Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) across the enterprise to ensure 100% traceability and transparency in our operations. All operational data, as well as production data through the supply chain, is captured into the ERP,” said Narendra.
Technology gives Nandu’s the opportunity to answer consumer queries based on data. “Where has the chicken come from? How was it grown and under what circumstances? What did it eat? How was it transported to the slaughterhouse and the retail outlet? What was the cold chain infrastructure?” elaborated Narendra, adding that consumers are willing to pay a marginally higher price for fresh, hygienic meat, free of antibiotics.
“At Nandu’s, we are moving towards a zero-waste policy,” said Narendra. Finding sustainable alternatives has paved the way for ecologically and economically better solutions. The breeding farms, for instance, are solar-powered; they don’t rely on fossil fuels. Similarly, the company uses chicken litter – which if left in the open emits methane, a deadly greenhouse gas – to power the biogas plant, which produces electricity for Nandu’s. The chicken litter is also used as organic manure, ensuring that farmers don’t need to use chemical fertilizers for farming.
Nandu’s also uses urban organic wet waste (kitchen waste, food processing waste, etc) to grow black soldier fly (BSF) larvae, which are then fed to the chicken. The endeavour is to replace the traditional chicken feed of corn and soy, which is extremely taxing to grow on the planet. BSF helps reduce the burden of the poultry industry on resource-intensive chicken feeds.
“The biggest challenge in going green is the upfront investments that companies have to make,” said the entrepreneur. However, Nandu’s experience shows that short-term challenges of embracing sustainable farming make way for long-term opportunities to create value for customers, livelihood for the farmer community, and better health for the environment.