Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Day 11: Entrepreneurs in swine and a diversified crop farm

Blog post written by Lacey Caffee and Jason Warrington

After checking out of our final hotel in India we traveled to the Indo-Canadian Swine Breeders farm.  Sukltwinder Singh Grewal, director and farm owner, and his family have one acre of land, with 200 pigs on site currently and capacity for up to 400.  Every portion of the ground is used with several small gardens of onions, mint, peas and garlic, so they have ingredients for pickling the pork right there. 

Class 9 at the pork farm.

Scott Biskeborn and Kara Kayser sampling  some of the
pickled pork products
Majority of the hogs are shipped to the northeast, where the pork consumption is the highest in India, close to the border with China.  Recalling that both Muslim and Hindu’s do not consume pork, and only 1% of the Christian population eats pork, this is truly a niche industry.  The biggest part we need to realize is that this isn’t only the first pork farm of its kind here, it’s socially frowned upon.  It’s thought that the lowest class of people raises hogs or would even consider being around them. 19 years ago when they started this farm, it made them social outcasts.  Now, there are others are possibly considering getting into it, after seeing the profits with so little land.

In 1999 a partnership with Canada was formed to bring swine semen in from Alberta, one of the first breeders to do this.  Breeds used are Large White Yorkshire, Landrace and Duroc.   Semen is brought in standard semen tanks from Canada, this has be licensed through the India government.  This partnership was a first and only of its kind for India. 

Lacey Caffee with some of the pigs

These farmers traveled to Canada and Europe to be certified to AI. The average sow has 13 piglets per litter and they are farrowed out in crates like the US.  Fine straw shavings are used for bedding and each sow had her own area.  They all have to be hand cleaned and they save the manure to make patties, like the cattle.

The seal of certification by the Indian Government
Brian Turnes presenting our host with a small gift.
They formed a marketing business called Farmway Farmer Producer Company, LTD.  They are the processors and suppliers for many pork products.  Their Can Meat products include fresh pork, pork pickle, pork rib, pork chop, pork belly, mutton pickle, chicken pickle, fish pickle, pork soup and mutton soup.  Many people tried the pork pickle and thought it was delicious. 

Honey is another side product they sell, teaming up with Ekom International Inc.  Rajinder Singh Mann is the main manager of the honey enterprise.  He has been to 72 countries and has land in California and the Ukraine where he farms and sells honey. They are exporting honey to other countries including the United States where 500 containers go a year.  Rajinder gave us some of his famous honey!

After lunch we went to Bavnget Singh Kalyana’s farm.  Where he has 94 cultivated acres of wheat, rice paddy, sunflowers, chickpeas, lentals, mangos, and mustard.  The 5 acres of mangos are rented out for 1000 ($15) rupees on a three year contract.  Mango trees usually produce 600 mangos a year.  All other crops are maintained by the family and their 10 employees.

The owner has been doing extensive research on the profitability of the different crops through mapping and intense management.  Maps are color coded, via color pencil, on the acres that have had something applied.  There is a map key on each page, describing the different applications included in the ones we saw; three applications of fertilizer, two irrigation passes and two rounds of pesticides were all mapped.  The fertilizer  applications included N, P & K at different times.  The pesticide rounds were comprised of herbicide and/or insecticide as needed.  The final yields for wheat 2.6-3.0 tons/a and 3.0-3.5 tons/a for the paddys.  He determined wheat was barely reaching breakeven and paddys were clearing 10,000-15,000 rupee, which equals $300/a.  The input costs are just too high in his area for it to be profitable in these two crops, he will continue his research onto other crops next.  

The farm's management plan 
This farm's fields are split into ninety-four, one-acre plots.  We had a chance to look at chickpeas, mustard (canola) and wheat.  There was harvesting of mustard occurring while we were touring. The mustard is cut and laid down in the field for 7 days to dry.  Then picked up and thrashed.  The mustard is used for oil and is primarily used for cooking.  The chickpeas were starting to bloom, and are one of the most universal crops for food in India. Crops are planted in different stages so they aren’t all ready at once, since all crops are extremely labor intensive. Wheat was the main crop we were able to see in addition to a few small plots of mustard and chick pea.  They add mustard between other crops to detect for insects.  The bugs will attack the mustard first, the farmer will notice it and know when and what he needs to spray. 

We walked along the irrigation dividers, through the crops to view some of the fields.
It was a beautiful day to see this farm.

Rebecca Christmann and Matt Dybedahl with our host

Now we’re back in Delhi to wait for a 3am flight.  We have a few hours in a hotel to change, repack and collect ourselves before we head to the airport to check in for our flights home.


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