The economic boom in India has contributed to a soaring demand for high-quality meat, eggs and milk – a demand that is shouldered largely by the country’s dairy and poultry farmers. It’s a huge demand to meet, and one that is reliant on more than just the farmers’ production; it also depends on the quality of the feed provided to the animals.
And that’s where Krishi Nutrition Company is playing a key role. Established in 2013 at Perundurai in the Erode district of Tamilnadu by a team of four like-minded friends, Chair Athmanathan Renganathan, CEO Maharajan Sakthivelayutham, Managing Director Sundaram Ramamoorthi and Director Selvakkumar Gandhimathinathan, Krishi has since become one of the most trusted names in the animal feed industry in Southern India.
Maharajan is no stranger to the animal feed manufacturing world. In fact, he’s worked in the area almost since graduating university, bar a brief stint in his family’s business. “My first job in animal feed manufacturing was a real challenge because I was working in rural areas, but it was interesting,” he reflects.
“Since, I’ve found myself working for several animal feed companies over a span of roughly 23 years, giving me exposure to all areas.” And in his circle of friends, the story is pretty much verbatim – they’ve each had anywhere from 15 to 30 years of experience in the animal feed, poultry and agriculture space.
Noticing that with their collective expertise, they could create something big, the four brainstormed a plan. “We started talking, and thought, ‘Why don’t we become entrepreneurs?’ We strongly believed that as entrepreneurs, we could add more value for employees and customers. That’s the main reason why we started Krishi.”
Reasonably so, the company was slow moving in the beginning. But as Krishi gained momentum, it wasn’t long before it absolutely took off. “It’s so interesting when I look back on our journey,” Maharajan reminisces.
“In the November we started, we had a production capacity of 100 tonnes per day that was accomplished with the use of a leased plant. Almost eight years later, we’ve grown to 600-plus employees, handling 60,000 tonnes of feed sale per month. That’s about 2,700 per day. We also crossed a turnover of INR1,500 crores (US$203 million).”
Within the next five years, Maharajan says the plan is to double the business. Beyond expanding into solvent extraction, which will add value to Krishi’s feed quality, the company also plans to upgrade its integration business.
Our vision is to make the Krishi animal feed brand the most preferred brand in India, and we’re working to keep it top of mind for customers.
“Apart from that, we also have some local feed manufacturers that we plan to involve in a trading business,” he shares. “Our vision is to make the Krishi animal feed brand the most preferred brand in India, and we’re working to keep it top of mind for customers.”
Today, Krishi manufactures and sells an extensive range of products to cater to various segments in livestock and poultry, including feed for milch cows and buffalo, calves, sheep and goats, broiler, layer and country chickens, as well as quail.
With a vision to diversify the business and expand its services, Krishi recently stepped into the broiler integration segment to help optimise its opportunity to emerge as a leader. In addition, the company has plans to step into the agri-input business and commodity trading, which will help it further maintain its leadership in the Indian animal feed industry.
A confident leader, Maharajan has no doubt this vision will be realised. He and his cohorts have been in the industry long enough to know it inside and out. So when he’s asked about anticipated challenges, he knows there’s nothing they can’t overcome.
“We’ve been in this field for more than 30 years now; we know how to drive the business,” he says. “We’re not only talking about quality and ensuring consistency because that’s a given. We offer on-ground, technical support 24/7 for our customers. We’re increasing the width and depth of the range of products we offer and introducing some new ones like Pro24+ cattle feed.”
The cattle feed segment presents a massive opportunity for Krishi. India is the world’s largest producer of milk, with 22 per cent of global production. That means there are a lot of dairy cows that are going to need to be fed high-quality feed for even better quality output.
“India’s animal feed manufactuerers currently supply 20 per cent of the total requirement that’s needed. So we have huge potential to reach the remaining 80 per cent,” Maharajan says. “Those farmers are still using conventional feed material, which is a practice that’s not viable for either the animal or the farmers. So we’re looking into ways to convert them to superior Krishi feed.”
At Krishi, it’s been important to have the right employees in the right roles. Even more, Maharajan says it’s been critical for them to take ownership over their roles, feeling passionate about what they do and working towards the bigger picture. “All employees should have the feeling of, ‘Krishi is my company.’ With that mindset, we can do wonders in the market,” he says.
The chickens of today are the descendants of jungle fowl. The mature fowl hens of yesteryear used to lay about 12 eggs per year and only during the breeding season. Today, thanks to genetic selection and modern, scientific feeding methods, chickens can lay almost 330 eggs per year, any time of year.
“We serve 750-plus distributors and dealers, and more than 3,600 connecting points, including retail outlets. Our people know our vision, and they take care of it.” With this passion, the Krishi team is able to provide customers with something its competitors can’t – holistic value. “We are not just about quality; everybody can do quality,” Maharajan says.
“As a team, we provide an integrated solution where we help our farmers become successful business people.” Believing in mutuality, Krishi provides post-sale, on-farm technical support to educate farmers. By adding value to its proposition, the company helps them achieve higher output.
“In the poultry business, we do this by setting up hatcheries, offering technical support, training their people and sharing best practices,” Maharajan says. “For the cattle business, we provide the quality and quantity of product they need. Even more, we conduct trials at their farms. With the use of Krishi feed, it’s been shown that profitability increases compared to conventional feed.”
The company’s customer-centric ethos and its attitude of care toward employees filters down to its supplier relationships. The company values them and knows the success of long-term business relations depends upon trust, loyalty and communication. That’s why Krishi has taken the time and put in the effort to truly get to know each and every one of its suppliers, cultivating the relationship with them over the years.
Selvakkumar, who looks over supplier relations, shares that by really getting to know suppliers over the past 23 years, Krishi has been able to gain an insight into their relations with customers and their business ethics. And vice versa, their partners also learn about Krishi.
Having that strong alignment in the relationship leads to a mutually beneficial result. With animal feed a seasonal commodity, and with Krishi working on an average of 15 days’ inventory level, it’s been vital to secure enough raw material to last the year.
For example, regarding soybeans, a protein source for its feed production, the harvest season is only three months – November, December and January. That means, Krishi is tasked with securing enough to last for the remaining nine months as well.
While it can be a logistical nightmare, Selvakkumar shares that the company’s strong partner relationships have proven indispensable. Together, they ensure the material is stored properly while maintaining its quality irrespective of climatic conditions.
Krishi’s vision of becoming the most preferred animal feed company in India, using the latest technology for production and adhering to high ethical business standards is soon to be realised because of its inherent altruism. Like American inspirational speaker and author Iyanla Vanzant once said, “The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.” And that’s exactly the way Krishi operates, putting its customers first.
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