What made this IIM Graduate quit her high-income job, to start a dairy business with her father

“Health is not valued till sickness comes.” Phoolchand Kumawat realised the value of health, only after his daughter fell ill. His daughter was suffering from an acute case of jaundice, when she was just 3. The doctor advised Kumawat to give his daughter undiluted food & pure milk. Phoolchand made an effort to reach every possible place in Ajmer to find pure milk. But he didn’t find any that could satisfy the health requirements of his daughter. On the occasion of Raksha Bandhan he purchased ghee (clarified butter) from the market, so that the family could have sweets at home. The ghee turned out to be of inferior quality & left all the family members sick.

Kumawat was influenced by this incident and decided to buy an indigenous cow. Phoolchand originally came from a farmer’s family. He had been interested in farming & daily farming, but like others from his generation he too left farming to pursue a better future. He completed his engineering & landed a job in the PWD department. Most people from humble backgrounds would be happy with the job. Phoolchand realised that the job might give him material satisfaction, but the health factor would always be missing.

Phoolchand bought a cow for RS 3500, 25 years ago. The primary intention was to feed my daughter & family. He wanted to give his daughter unadulterated milk & milk products. Once Ankita began to recover, Phoolchand realised that almost all the products they consumed from the market were adulterated. The vegetables & grains consumed by them were grown by making use of chemicals & pesticides. This was in no way going to help anyone. Phoolchand wanted to grow food now, but job security was important for him to look after the family.

In the meantime, the family of the cow multiplied. With every passing year there was an additional member in the cow’s family. Phoolchand was selling milk to his neighbours. It was tough for him to manage his job & the cow family that was growing every year. Both his daughters had also completed their education by then. His elder daughter Ankita passed out from IIM Calcutta. She had been placed in a multinational company. Phoolchand decided to take voluntary retirement after Ankita joined the workplace.

Ankita was making rapid progress in her career. She had been to the US & Germany for company projects. Her future looked great. Her father had purchased some agricultural land in Ajmer with the money he received from the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS).  He was growing grains and vegetables.

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Ankita, influenced by her father, decided to quit her high-income job & follow her father’s dream. She quit the job in 2014 and was now a part of his dairy & farming business. Ankita said that coming from a middle-class family she knew how important it was to get a good job. She said that she never thought of farming or setting up a business, but her father’s passion had influenced her to take up farming. Being the elder daughter, she decided to support her father as he was not in the best of health. Ankita has succeeded at the dairy business and today she is a proud co-owner of Maatratav Dairy and Organic farm. The farm has 100 cattle & grows wheat and all seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Ankita has made several changes in the farm after joining her father. She has introduced modern techniques like drip irrigation. The farm works on solar energy & even rain harvesting has been done in the farm. Ankita attributes her success to the managerial skills she developed at IIM. The ability to take quick decisions & a high problem solving aptitude, which she learnt from IIM-C and the corporates that employed her, have helped Ankita to a great extent in the dairy farming business. She calls her farming a mixture of modern and traditional methods. Ankita has also done a course in mushroom farming from Solan, Himachal Pradesh. She also tried growing mushrooms & her first attempt has worked out well. She will be soon growing mushrooms on a large scale. She also has plans of establishing a vermi compost plant to supply farmers with organic compost.

Ankita says that corporate jobs come with fixed salaries & fixed working time. She says that farming does not offer these  2 benefits, but a healthy life is an advantage over any white-collar job. Moreover, she feels that it’s about leaving a sustainable world for the future generations.

Source: TBI

Alok Shetty