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"Making good meat that makes for right eating"

"A poultry food system that enhances individual health and protects environment wellbeing"

Photo of Nikhil Patil
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Access Livelihoods Consulting (ALC) India Ltd.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large company (over 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://www.alcindia.org/

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Hyderabad, Telangana

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

India

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

ALC India’s vision will cover places in four states – Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Telangana – for an area of around 24,850 km^2

What country is your selected Place located in?

India

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Small and marginal farmers with less than two hectares or one hectare of land respectively account for 86.2% of India’s famers, owning just 47.3% of the cultivated area (https://www.livemint.com/Politics/k90ox8AsPMdyPDuykv1eWL/Small-and-marginal-farmers-own-just-473-of-crop-area-show.html). Of the total tribal population of India, 24.9% (https://tribal.nic.in/ST/Statistics8518.pdf) live in the four states selected. 

In diverse contexts of fragile livelihoods, we strive to build livelihoods systems that are more certain, rewarding, and sustainable. To make this a reality, we offer services to develop producers’ technical, managerial, and entrepreneurial skills and incubate enterprises they own.

We have promoted 54 Women Farmer Producer Companies (WFPCs), reaching out to 65,000 women producers in 5 Indian states. Today, we work with 21,000 women, building producer-owned enterprises in agriculture, dairy, horticulture, and poultry food systems.

Our model puts producers first. We partner communities, investing 7-8 years to seed transformative models driven by producers. Subsequently, the relationship develops based on the progress. The engagement model and services portfolio evolve accordingly. Living in the midst of the producers, our small teams (2 or 3) work with them, enabling them to realize their potential and create significantly better alternatives to current systems.

In the selected places (where we have been working for five years now), in addition to crop-based livelihoods and dairying, we have seeded Desi Poultry (Desi refers to Country as opposed to Industrial) enterprises. Five WFPCs we partner in Maharashtra have already started taking the Creyo brand of poultry to consumers through supply to retailers. Also, other major commodities produced (paddy and tamarind) are marketed in the local communities and major towns in a radius of 100-150 kms. Here and in the other places, the poultry food system-based work will play an important role in transformation.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The four locations that make up our place are diverse and fascinating.


In Maharashtra, we work in Deori, Gondia district (situated on the North-Eastern side of Maharashtra state and home to two National Parks, Navegaon Bandh & Nagzira). Farming is the main occupation. Rainfed paddy is the main agri produce. Other crops are Sorghum, Linseed, Wheat, and Pigeon Pea. The tribal community is largely found in the dense forest areas here. Gond tribals, one of India’s largest tribes, have a significant presence. They have their tribal deities and perform the “Rela” dance on auspicious occasions and when new crops come. Nagpur (India’s 13th most populous city) and Raipur (capital of Chhattisgarh state) are the nearest major cities. For more information, see https://gondia.gov.in/about-district/.

From here, we move east to Dharmagarh sub-division of Kalahandi district, Odisha state. Here, the climate is one of extremes. Kalahandi is largely an agrarian economy. Also, forest produce like Mahua, Kendu Leaf, Wood, Timber and Bamboos contribute significantly to the local economy. Here, 28% of the total population is tribal; 92.26% of the population is rural. They celebrate several national festivals (Deepawali, Shivratri, Holi, Janmashtami) and uniquely local festivals like Khandabasa, Nuakhai, Kalahandi Utsav, and Ghanta Jatra. The staple food is rice and curry. Here, many indigenous varieties of rice are found. Balangir, Bhawanipatna and Rayagada are the nearest major cities. For more information, see https://kalahandi.nic.in/about-district/.

Down south, In Telangana state, the cluster of Kodangal, Angadi Raichur, and Hasnabad in Vikarabad district is our next location. Vikarabad is one of the most attractive tourist spots in Telangana state. Here, 86.52% of the total population is rural. Agriculture is the main source of income. Cotton is an important cash crop along with food crops like Pigeon Pea, Maize, and Rice. The tribal communities account for 10.2% of the district’s total population. All people celebrate Bathukamma festival (a colorful and vibrant floral festival of Telangana). Women take the lead and make exquisite floral arrangements. Hyderabad (Telangana’s capital) and Mahabubnagar are big urban centres nearest to Vikarabad district. For more information, see http://vikarabad.telangana.gov.in/district-profile/.

 Up north east, bordering Odisha, lies Srikakulam District. It is in the North Coastal Plain of the Agro-Climatic Zone and an areas with significant tribal populations. It has two Natural Regions – Hilly Region called Agency Area (mostly inhabited by tribal populations) and the Plain Area.  Agriculture is crucial in the economy. Cashew from Palasa, Srikakulam is widely preferred due to its rich taste. People here celebrate festival of Ratha Saptami in the month of February or March for Lord Surya (Sun God). For more information, see https://srikakulam.ap.gov.in/about-district/.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

46375699

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

India’s population will reach 1.7 billion by 2050. Food demand will increase by 70%; current domestic food production already falls short of demand (http://bwdisrupt.businessworld.in/article/India-in-2050-Future-of-Food/18-01-2017-111647/). India’s growing population, rising disposable incomes, and changing food habits are boosting the consumption of non-vegetarian food, according to CLFMA, an association of Indian feed manufacturers. The supply of meat is projected to be 6.3 million tonnes in 2020 and 8.0 million tonnes by 2030. Even so, a deficit of 1.2 million tonnes is expected in 2030. (https://www.insa.nic.in/writereaddata/UpLoadedFiles/PINSA/2016_Art128.pdf)

Poultry is the least expensive and most popular meat option. To meet the increasing demand for meat, the poultry business is growing, with the organized sector accounting for about 80% of the market. (http://www.dahd.nic.in/sites/default/filess/Seeking%20Comments%20on%20National%20Action%20Plan-%20Poultry-%202022%20by%2012-12-2017.pdf)

In Indian poultry farms, antibiotics are routinely administered to chickens in small doses to promote growth and keep disease at bay, almost as a replacement for nutrition and sanitation. Also, due to unhealthy breeding conditions with controlled temperature and feed control, broiler chicken is high on fat, low on muscle, and exposed to potential diseases and epidemics. Periodically, avian flu attacks require the culling of 100s of thousands of birds, indicating the high vulnerability of the chicken food system. The consequences for human health are alarming. (https://www.hindustantimes.com/health/antibiotics-use-by-india-s-poultry-farms-endangering-human-lives-says-expert/story-6W6b10gfdUKhOkrTSscDlL.html).

On the other hand, the world is already grappling with climate change and water scarcity. The CWMI report of NITI Aayog states that by 2030, India's water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for millions of people and an eventual six per cent loss in the country's GDP. To manage water scarcity and still produce meat that consumers will want, chicken production will play a major role. While it takes 8000L water to produce 1 kg of mutton, it takes 4000L for 1 kg of chicken.

Small holders who typically grow healthier free-range country birds with less resources have hitherto not been able to make high investments to achieve large scale of production, and do not have an integrated value chain to cater to a large demand in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Changed rearing practices and consumer awareness can play a major role in transforming the chicken food system. In this suboptimal equilibrium, backyard poultry is emerging as a more economical and sustainable way of white meat production, capable of emerging as an ecosystem of healthy food for consumers and additional income source for marginalized farmers.

 (https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelpellmanrowland/2017/12/17/india-meat-increase/#1cad8ad33b14)

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The vision is to establish Fully Integrated Semi-intensive Desi (Country Bird) poultry food systems across the four locations. The fully integrated poultry food system comprises producing chicks in Hatchery units, rearing the birds in CRCs (Chick Rearing Centres), chicks then moving to women entrepreneurs where care and nutrition ensure their healthy growth in eco-friendly poultry sheds. When the birds are ready for the market, the women process and dress the chicken, and sell it to the market through apps and retail stores under the brand owned by their Producer Companies. By 2050, the supply chain will be driven by technologies that track and report details from the most minor to the most consolidated.

To achieve this transformation, we are creating a model of integrated poultry businesses made possible through a bouquet of services to women farmers. Principles and standards are being applied to create a model never attempted at this scale in the endeavor to make poultry a truly good choice – from the farmers to the traders to the consumers.

Let’s step back to survey the issues again. Indian consumers are mostly not aware that meat that carries antibiotic-resistant bacteria could make their body resistant to other bacteria which play a major role in diseases like respiratory infections, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, etc. We tackle this by providing technical advice and a rigorous audit mechanism when the chicks are grown, to minimize or eliminate the use of antibiotics, exposure to potential diseases and likelihood of epidemics. All this ensures healthy chicken in the numbers that can make a difference in the market.

On the environment front, the world is facing a crisis due to carbon emissions. Our model promises an alternative to carbon-heavy red meat as carbon-light white meat (lighter than the industrial production of chicken as well). Producing beef requires 10 times more resources than producing chicken (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/choosing-chicken-over-beef-cuts-carbon-footprint-surprising-amount/) At the same time, we are providing solutions to construct eco-friendly poultry sheds, made from locally available material that is vetted for feasibility, economy, and ease in construction. To be more sustainable and still manage frequent power cuts in rural areas, renewable energy options are being explored wherever possible.

Over and above this, the model will place great emphasis on developing markets through the most contemporary channel – e-commerce. Food businesses are aggressively pursuing e-commerce. ALC India has already created a highly contemporary producer-owned brand named ‘Creyo’ and is, in a phased manner, rolling out an app-driven business model that creates a direct connect for consumers with the responsible producers who own the brand and brings more healthy and sustainable products to their doorsteps.

(https://www.export.gov/article?id=India-e-Commerce)

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Eating patterns (or diets) are an important point of interconnection in food systems between human health and wider environmental impacts. A perceptible and growing shift in consumption pattern is being seen. People are moving towards sustainable and healthy eating patterns and this will grow. When consumers learn and develop an interest in the options that are better for individual and family health as well as the planet’s health, they are far more likely to move from awareness to making choices.

On this front, WRI (Water Resource Institute) has introduced a protein scorecard that ranks foods from lowest (plant-based foods) to highest impact (beef). The scorecard is based on associated greenhouse gas emissions per gram of protein produced. Encouragingly, some of the lowest-impact foods are also the cheapest to buy.

By 2050, India will have seen a transformation - the cost and taste-driven consumer will be much more of a conscious and responsible consumer. These consumers will have diets that uniquely embody local tastes, reflect cultural preferences, and contribute to the wellbeing of individuals without compromising the wellbeing of their environment. This well-established consumer preference will make our desi poultry a popular choice. Also, our poultry sheds and white meat will have a smaller carbon footprint than the commercial sector poultry.

The application of advanced technologies in rural areas will reduce the losses at each stage of the value chain, thus establishing the highest possible resource consciousness, aligned with sustainability imperatives. Scale will ensure profitability. Social and economic status of women producers will have grown.

Apart from the benefits for the producers, employment will be generated for the youth at the local level as well as in the major city markets near the production clusters. Thus, at every step and on every parameter, the system will have proved itself as a truly nourishing food system that also cares for the planet.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

We are what we eat, goes the proverbial saying. Today, what we are eating isn’t good enough, isn’t nourishing enough. On the contrary, a lot of it is turning out to be harmful. It’s true of the chicken that is, by a large margin, the number one meat preferred by Indian meat eaters. The dangers lurking beneath the feathers of the bird coming out of the industrial model are grave, indeed.

If today doesn’t change, tomorrow and 2050 will be a nightmare come true. Today must change. For a better future – for the planet and the people it nurtures. For this change, people have to create food systems that nurture them and the planet.

This vision is for such a change in the poultry food system.

Specifically, the vision is to create a well-established sustainable ecosystem for integrated poultry through holistic value chain driven interventions. We will establish this by producing healthy food at the local level in a more hygienic, economical, and eco-friendly way. The vision is a meat that provides safe and gratifying food with as low a footprint as possible.

Today’s poultry food system demands more land, water, power, and commercial feed that put the environment under stress and put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The integrated semi-intensive desi poultry food system, will distribute production, promote birds made hardy for their climes, birds that are partially free range (reducing power consumption), and use a more optimized mix of naturally available feed and commercial feed.

Consumers will pay more because it is a healthier, tastier, and regionally unique diet. The varieties will be more suitable for regional culinary practices and preferences.

Consumers swill likely save on health costs. Societies will save public health costs incurred on conditions correlated to the abuse of antibiotics in producing poultry at scale. Consumers will pay more to farmers who are not merely getting wages. As a result, producer economics will improve.

A variety of technologies will play a key role in the breeding of healthy chicks, housing of chicks for optimal hygiene, health and growth, rearing that tracks each bird all the way, feed production according to local material and availability and good nutrition practices, health management, processing, transportation, storage, packaging, and disposal of poultry litter.

Policies will be integrative, driven by system thinking and catalyse developments that reinforce the relationships among the interdependent variables. They will be informed by principles that allow modifications for local contexts. Our model, which will be demonstrated at scale, will yield insights that can translate into frameworks for policy formulation and regulation. 

Food systems and the environment are inextricably interconnected with each other. Today, a change is already visible in the poultry sector – consumers are more aware. This awareness will drive a paradigm shift in eating patterns. Our sustainable integrated semi-intensive poultry business will provide various services to the women producers to make it safer and more transparent. We will collaborate with various organizations like research institutes, academic institutes, etc. to pilot and replicate solutions for affordable and healthy food. This poultry model will contribute to prosperity and employment in rural areas.

 Creyo, the brand owned by the producers, will stand for healthier and safer food. What’s more, Creyo will be available in just a few clicks of the smartphone.

Our model will be human-centered by design and technology-powered by choice. Vertical integration will ensure a system with the right interrelationships and controls to optimize the outputs and outcomes. The feed producing units, hatchery units, CRC (Chick Rearing Centre), Poultry sheds, Cold storage units, brick and mortar outlets will be integrated and will be owned by the producers. On the other hand, the supply chain will be developed in such a way that highest level traceability can be achieved.

Government of India sees the poultry business as an important activity in poverty alleviation and has taken major policy initiatives. Hence, the weaker sections of society, such as small and marginal farmers, and agricultural laborers/landless laborers have been provided with help through credit facilities, subsidies, and technical assistance to adopt poultry farming as a supplementary source of income. We will collaborate with government agencies such as the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) and the National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), state governments and non-government organizations (NGOs) to create a poultry food system that is everything it needs to be – low cost, trusted, nourishing, and sustainable.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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