1. Agriculture World

Cow dung paint is becoming a possible source of revenue for Farmers

Chintu Das
Chintu Das
Cow Dung Cake On dry Grass

Aside from the ahimsa theory, the cow's commercial utility has added to its elevated theological status and respect in many cultures. Other than religious considerations, there are other reasons to raise the animal.

The aggressive target of increasing farmers' income would necessitate action on many fronts. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is experimenting with the groundbreaking technology of ‘Khadi Prakritik' paint made from cow dung to provide a steady source of additional income for cattle farmers.

The eco-friendly, non-toxic, odorless product, which has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, could help a farmer earn an extra Rs 30,000 per year from a single cow.

Anupama, a young woman in her early twenties who lives in Noida's Sector 135, owns four cows and two buffaloes. She and her family make ‘upla,' a dry and round-shaped cake made from cow dung, and sell the surplus stock after domestic use of upla as cooking fuel to earn Rs 70-100 per day. However, the revenue stream is not consistent due to the volatile market for upla.

Actually, it happens to me. Anupma could learn from a few farmer families on the outskirts of Jaipur who now earn Rs 5/kg selling raw dung on a regular basis. Cow dung can be used as the primary raw material in the production of white paints such as emulsion and distemper thanks to the KVIC technology.

According to Vinai Kumar Saxena, chairman of KVIC, farmers could earn Rs 1,000 crore by selling raw cow dung, which is currently largely wasted, with projected possible revenue of Rs 6,000 crore in the next two years.

“We charge Rs 1 per piece for upla. Anupama claims that one kilogram of dung will yield up to 5 uplas. Given the labor savings and the prospects for steady demand for the material, she believes a steady income at a slightly higher rate from raw dung could be rewarding for her family. According to sources, it takes 150-170 kg of dung to make 500 litres of Prakritik paint.

Since the commodity was unveiled by the minister for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) Nitin Gadkari in January, KVIC has been sourcing the raw material from a cow shelter (gaushala) in Jaipur, rather than from individual farmers.

Small farmers of 4-6 cows use dung as a crop nutrient, lowering crop production costs by reducing the use of chemical fertilizers such as urea and DAP. Dairy farms and other large farmers who currently receive only Rs 300-500 per tractor-load of cow dung can benefit financially from the KVIC commodity.

Though KVIC presently pays only Rs 5/kg for raw cow dung obtained from gaushalas and small farmers, it plans to lift the amount to Rs 10/kg, according to Saxena. KVIC has sold 6,000 litres of Prakritik paint since its launch two months ago, both online and via retail outlets.

The distemper is priced at Rs 160 per litre, while the emulsion is priced at Rs 290 per litre, according to KVIC (white). Though several existing brands' acrylic distemper prices (in a 10 litre pack) are lower (Rs 55-140/litre) than Khadi Prakritik's, KVIC's emulsion is less costly than synthetic variants (Rs 345-600/litre).

“We've formulated a roadmap for marketing these goods, which encompasses anything from delivering training to small business owners to developing distributor networks. “To popularize the products, we are scaling up operations,” Saxena said.

KVIC's 500-liter-per-day plant in Jaipur is currently the only production facility, although it is scheduled to be upgraded to 1,000-litre-per-day capacity by the end of May.

In addition, in April, six more plants with a capacity of 500 liters each will be installed in Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, he added. Leading players in the Rs 60,000 crore domestic paint market, according to KVIC, will consider investing in Prakritik technology in the near future.

A Rs 20 lakh investment is expected to set up a plant with a capacity of 500 liters per day, which will be financed through a government scheme for the MSME industry.

Each of these plants could hire 11 workers directly. “To deliver the technology and also the facility to sale across its pan-India network of over 8,600 retail Khadi outlets, KVIC is charging a one-time royalty fee of Rs 1 lakh,” Saxena added, adding that the device will hire up to 3 lakh people in the next two years.

Prakritik is often considered a "safe food" because it contains no plastic or synthetic additives. Heavy metals such as lead, mercury, chromium, arsenic, and cadmium are also absent.

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