Four university graduates from Narayanganj, to entertain their hobby, started a cow-fattening farm called Deshi Agro. Acting on the local market demand, they later started to produce raw milk. Abdan Sakur Rusafa, a member of the team, shares their story with New Age Youth
‘IT ALL started three years ago on a roof top on the night of Eid-ul-Azha when some of my friends were hanging around and one of them was watching a video of a cattle farm. Later everyone was watching the video.
Right on that moment, I had that click. ‘Let’s set up a farm like this’, I suggested. My friends Tafiqul Islam Rashad responded as well as Animul Haque and Ahsan Habib. So we have the team and together we could achieve anything,’ Rusafa told New Age Youth during a conversation over phone.
Sifat has completed his bachelor in business administration from United International University, Rashad passed his graduation from University of Asia Pacific in software engineering, Rusafa is a graduate from the same university in computer science and engineering. Animul is a fresh graduate in bachelor of business administration from University of Asia Pacific.
Neither of us knew absolutely anything about farming and agro based business at that time. With insufficient knowledge about that sector, we, the four amateurs, started our journey.
At the beginning of our dream project ‘Deshi Agro’, it was not a commercial farm rather our hobby. Our strategy was very simple. We decided to buy some bulls and raise them for the next Eid-ul-Azha. As told earlier we were armatures we could not look after the bulls. So we hired an employee who had experience with cattle rising. Our intention was also to learn from him as much as we could.
During those days many people living in and around the vicinity used to visit the farm asking for raw milk but left with disappointing faces because we had no dairy section back then. After learning that there was a high demand for raw milk in that area, team Deshi Agro bought a few dairy cows and a hired a few more employees thus the hobby turned into a fully fledged business.
Now let us talk about Deshi Agro. As a commercial farm, Deshi Agro has two wings — dairy and fattening. To talk about dairy, first year we bought nine dairy cows. But we failed to reach our targeted milk production initially.
Different people used to give us different suggestions on how should we approach the market and set the target. But in reality, most of those suggestions were not that much helpful. On the second year, we decided to do our own research before implicating those suggestions in our farm.
Later we found some groups in Facebook like ‘Amra Dairy Farmers’, ‘Polly Dairy Farmers’, ‘Cattle Farmers of Bangladesh’ et cetera. From there, we had the privilege to meet Mukti Mahmud, a well-known name at agro industry in Bangladesh, who was always there for us. He suggested us to buy dairy cows from only reliable and authentic sources.
Barrister Fiaz N Hasan the owner of ‘Hasan Agrotech’ helped us a lot to know about criteria of selecting dairy cows. He elaborately discussed scientific realities behind breeds of dairy cows. It changed the scenario of Deshi Agro. But yet we were getting the 70 per cent of our targeted milk production.
Later, Dr Farhad Hossain the chief veterinary officer of Central Veterinary Hospital gave us detail information and strategies of farming management. He taught us how to maintain a proper diet for the cows as well as how to handle disease situations.
Now on the third year, we have a milk production of 250 litres per day. There is high demand of raw milk in our area. The next target of Deshi Agro is to raise the milk production to 1000 litres per day and we are working on that target.
Now let’s talk about the cow fattening part of our business, in the first year we bought a few bulls just for our families for Eid-ul-Azha. But one cannot run a business just relying on own family’s need. So we bought more bulls. Before buying bulls, we always keep few things on our mind. First, eligibility — if a bull is less than two years old then it is not suitable for Eid-ul-Azha’s sacrifice. Second, the price of the bull should match the market. The third thing to consider is that will it gain weight or not.
In this case, we usually use the frame scoring. By doing frame scoring we can get primary idea on how much that particular cattle would weigh after a certain period of time.
Though it is a commercial project but besides becoming commercially successful, our dream is to provide quality raw milk or dairy products and fresh meat to our customer. So, we are planning to expand our business.
Within 2021, our target is to produce 1000 litres of raw milk per day and also produce various dairy products to meet our customers’ need.
At the beginning, our families did not give much positive responses. But over the span of time, their perceptions about this business have changed. Currently, we are getting all the help we need from our families.
Actually, it was not in our mind to do something big but only to materialise our hobby. At the core of Deshi Agro, there was and is the spirit to provide better dairy products to the people. Basically, we started this business from our love for animals.
In the beginning when we entered in the market, most of the people we know thought that we could not stay in the profession for long. Moreover, there were very few people who would actually inspire us.
In the real sense, we have started this business without having any primary knowledge about this sector. As beginners, it was very challenging to get connected with new peoples and to know the details about the sector. But from our inner courage, we stepped in the sector with only two bulls.
There are always some obstacles in every business. As our farm is near to the city area, it is quite difficult to source the raw materials that we need to maintain the cattle. But it can be said that if there is strong will, difficulties can be overcome.
Our objective of the business is to supply best quality raw milk to the people of my locality. Besides this, we also want to maintain quality of bulls for Eid-ul-Azha’s sacrifice. Like previous years, we are going to supply our customers some best quality sacrificial animal in the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha also.
Abdan Sakur Rusafa is a young entrepreneur.