Lawyer Shehryar Khanum turns entrepreneur with dairy farming


Source : Rising Kashmir

Written by : Mir Baseerat 

At a time when Covid-19 pandemic has gravely impacted Kashmir’s economy, the grim situation did not deter entrepreneur Shehryar Khanum to excel in her business venture of dairy farming.

Lawyer turned entrepreneur Shehryar has not only managed to continue her business, but has also managed to provide employment at her dairy farm.

Shehryar’s dairy farm is located in central Kashmir’s Budgam district. The land where the farm is located belongs to her family and she has taken only a small portion of it for the cattle rearing.

Shehryar set up her dairy farm business in 2019 and currently owns 11 adult cows and 2 heifer cows.

Dairy farming in Kashmir is the most hard-working and innovative occupation especially when it comes to cow rearing and sustainable farm practices.

“The farming requires a lot of hard work. You have to wake up early in the morning and get to work. But at the end of the day, it is all worth it when you know you are providing farm fresh healthy milk to the households,” Shehryar said.

Setting up a dairy farm is quite unusual for women and mostly men are involved in such kind of business activities. However, breaking the stereotype Shehryar set up her own dairy farm in the outskirts of Srinagar, only to set an exemplary work for other women in the valley.

The female entrepreneur belongs to a family with a political background and was a lawyer by profession until she decided to switch to setting up her own dairy farm. She believes it is not necessary that she should have joined politics at this point of time.

“I may or may not join politics in future as my career is completely driven by things that I think are right for me for that given point of time,” Shehryar said.

Now a dairy farmer, Shehryar has practiced in top law firms in India for eight years. She quit her job when she was a senior in hierarchy heading a team of ten lawyers.

“I moved back to Kashmir because I wanted to do something that was more meaningful and always thought that I would be a business entrepreneur.

 “Having said that, I absolutely love what I am doing now and I have never looked back. I am happy that I chose this switch in my career,” she said.

Shehryar is now looking forward to expanding her farm.

 “I am not from a veterinary background so I took small steps in the first couple of years to understand the business. Today I can tell if there is something wrong with the cattle or with the stock,” said Shehryar.

She said, “I am able to identify issues and now we are ready to scale up. We are hopeful that in next year our business is going to look completely different from what it is today.”

The entrepreneur after starting her business in June 2019 had to face a lot of challenges due to the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 which was followed by the pandemic,” said Shehryar.

She said the project cost was around Rs 22 lakh which also included the building and the stock.

As of date Shehryar’s farm produces 140 litres of milk.

“We do not do any other products yet. We want to focus on one thing first. I want to get optimal capacity for milk production so that it is sustainable and we will be able to provide good livelihood to the employees. Maybe then, we will look into diversification,” Shehryar said.

She said she has care takers and a manager who oversee the farm.

“We have a dedicated delivery guy who comes in the morning, picks up the bottles which we fill ourselves and then distributes them to households,” she said.

The farm caters milk to about 100 households.

The farm sells milk in glass bottles and the innovation has brought a lot of class into their business.

“Nobody sells farm fresh, unprocessed milk in glass bottles. We have ordered them from Delhi and they are reusable and environment friendly. We sterilize the bottles every day, and reuse them the next day has definitely been a big hit with our customers,” Shehryar said.

She said the project was completely self funded, but now she has applied for subsidy under the Integrated Dairy scheme in which unit holders are eligible for subsidies.

“It’s been a long wait, but we have got 50 per cent of the subsidy and hopefully the next 50 will come through in some time.”

So far as the products are concerned, the farm does not face the issue of adulteration or sub standardization because they themselves look after the packaging of milk which is very much their USP. 

“The milk production sometimes fluctuates, but still I never resort to wrong practices to earn more profits. I will never even consider adding water,” she said. “I will send the customer a litre-less but won’t ever compromise on the quality of milk. I feel that has made our customers appreciate our business as we are honest with them.”

Shehryar said that dairy farming typically does not need a lot of land, if one plans it meticulously.

 “It is absolutely possible to have a dairy farm in an urban area. It can also be set-up within residential areas with safe distance from neighbors because a lot of stench can come from the farm,” she said.

“You have to be stocked up. You have to plan well in advance for winters as we have long winter months in Kashmir.”

“It is in fact great if you have a farm in the city as you can get a good return for your produce. There is a big margin in the rates in cities as compared to rural areas,” Shehryar said.     

Shehryar said the government can ideally do a lot to promote dairy farming as it is the most ignored sector in the valley.

“We have tremendous potential because we have large scale land available for grazing,” Shehryar said.

“We have been slightly lucky because the local veterinary hospital has always provided us timely assistance as far as the health of the cattle is concerned. But overall the government is not dedicated to the dairy sector,” she said.

“There is a lot that the government can do. For instance in winters we struggle with fodder procurement because there is no green fodder available. So we have to order it from Punjab and Jammu which makes it extremely costly,” said Shehryar.

“You have to be stocked up. You have to plan well in advance for winters as we have long winter months in Kashmir,” she said.

She said the product “fermented corn silage” is used everywhere in India when green fodder is not available as it is rich in nutrient content and keeps the milk production at par in winters also.

“It is not available locally and there is not a single silage unit in Kashmir. We only have one unit in Jammu which is privately owned,” she said.

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