From German language teacher to millionaire dairy farmer, how Milan Sharma whipped up a success story

From German language teacher to millionaire dairy farmer, how Milan Sharma whipped up a success story

From German language teacher to millionaire dairy farmer, how Milan Sharma whipped up a success story a2 milk organic 30stades

From teaching the German language to running a dairy farm is a big leap. But that is the leap of faith that Milan Sharma took when she converted her family’s four-cow farm into an organic dairy business in 2017.

For someone who was even scared to go near cows, Milan has come a long way as she expertly handles all the 164 bovines each of whom she has named herself, in her 15-acre Revnar dairy farm in Faridabad, Haryana.

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“I used to be afraid of cows. I never went near them. But after I took over the dairy, I realised what loving creatures they are. They recognise me and whenever I go to the dairy, they surround me and rub their necks against my body lovingly,” she laughs.

Milan’s perseverance and determination have made her a successful organic dairy farmer with an annual turnover of Rs 1 crore.

Milan owns 156 Sahiwal and Rathi breed cows with daily milk production of 200 litres. She supplies milk as well as dairy products to customers in Faridabad and Noida besides selling online.

Also Read: Jharkhand: Tech graduate duo’s dairy venture Puresh tastes success amid COVID-19

Her Revnar Farm has cows of only desi or indigenous breeds like Sahiwal, Gir, Tharparkar, and Rath, which offer milk with the highest nutritional content.

Called A2 milk, it is high in A2 beta-casein protein and is more nutritious than A1 milk from cow breeds of Western origin like Jersey and Holstein Friesian.

“We need to preserve our indigenous cows as the quality of their milk is best for human consumption,” says the 52-year-old.

Revnar farm has 156 cows of indigenous (desi) breeds that give A2 milk. Pic: Courtesy Milan Sharma 30stades
Revnar farm has 156 cows of indigenous (desi) breeds that give A2 milk. Pic: Courtesy Milan Sharma

Learning the ropes

The start was, however, not easy. Milan has a master’s degree in biochemistry. But after marriage, she devoted her time to her family. After her sons started going to school, she used her free time to learn German and took up a job as a German language teacher in a school. She also worked with the German government on an educational project under the HRD ministry.

Also Read: Käse Cheese: Chennai’s all-women artisan cheese startup empowers people with hearing impairment; expands operations to Gujarat & Rajasthan

Her family owned a resort in Faridabad where they also had a cowshed with four desi cows. After Milan’s father-in-law passed away in 2017, her husband, Chetan, an engineer, did not want to sell the cows.

“We bought two more Sahiwal cows and slowly the number rose to 30 by March 2018. They were looked after by the staff at the resort. Then in March and April 2018, five calves died. That came as a jolt. And then I thought either we should do this properly or not at all,” says Milan.

Of the 200 litre milk produced daily, 50 litre is processed to make ghee, buttermilk and other products. Pic: Revnar Foods 30stades
Of the 200 litre milk produced daily, 50 litre is processed to make ghee, buttermilk and other products. Pic: Revnar Foods

She decided to quit her job and upgrade her knowledge of dairy farming. She took two courses on commercial dairy farming and value addition to milk at the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal.

Milan is all praise for the government institutes and the staff. She says they have been extremely cooperative and helpful whenever she has needed their assistance.

Also Read: Gujarat: How this lawyer-turned-organic farmer made her family’s dairy business profitable

Apart from having to learn everything from scratch, the bigger challenge Milan faced was that of finding trained labour.

“Labour we get is untrained on many aspects of farm work. They do not have a scientific approach. For instance, they might not take care of hygiene and that could pass on some diseases from one animal to the other,” she says

She underlines the need for institutions to train agriculture and dairy farm labour where certification courses on good practices can be offered. “This will be a great help to dairy farm owners as well as the labourers. Once they are trained, they will get better wages and stable employment,” she says.

Processing organic milk for value addition

Initially, the family used the milk for its own consumption. But when the number of cows increased to 10 and then 30 and more, they would give the excess milk to neighbours, some of whom would pay.

The cows feed on organic fodder and are administered only traditional medicines and herbs when needed. Pic: Revnar Foods 30stades
The cows feed on organic fodder and are administered only traditional medicines and herbs when needed. Pic: Revnar Foods

As the milk production increased, Milan started her farm Revnar in 2017 and took over operations full-time from August 2018. Milan started selling the milk and also started making other products such as paneer (cottage cheese), ghee, curd and buttermilk.

Also Read: How all-women dairy Shreeja has created one lakh milk entrepreneurs in Andhra Pradesh

The price of milk is Rs125 per litre and it is supplied to 150 families in Faridabad and Noida.

“We supply the milk in glass bottles through our own delivery channels,” she says.

Milan has set up a small processing unit for the milk. About 50 litres of milk is processed and made into dairy products. The rest is supplied to customers.

The farm has bulk milk coolers, refrigerators, an oil expeller, a rice mill, atta chakki and wooden churners for buttermilk. While milk is not supplied online, other products are available on Revnar’s Facebook page and website.

Milan has also installed an 80 cubic metre biogas plant and an 8 KW solar power plant on the farm.

Of the 15 acres, the dairy and processing units are located on three acres. The remaining 12 acres are used for growing fodder and medicinal plants and heritage trees such as Neem, Tahli, Kadam, Papaya, Giloyi, Amla, Guava, Bel Patra, lemon, tamarind, and Jamun. Milan adds leaves of these trees to cow urine to prepare Jeevamrit which is sprayed on crops. She also sprays buttermilk in the fields instead of pesticides to protect the crops.

Also Read: Sundarini: the organic milk revolution by women of Sundarbans

Using traditional wisdom

Milan is a firm believer that most illnesses in animals can be cured by ayurvedic medicines and antibiotics should be avoided. She has studied ethnoveterinary medicine at NDRI and National Dairy Development Board.

Ethnoveterinary vet medicine offers traditional animal health care practices that are alternatives to allopathic drugs. 

“I’ve tried it over the past eight months and I’ve seen that it works. In the past too, people cured animals using these herbs and medicinal plants. But now we have become lazy and take the easier route by giving antibiotics which is harmful to the animal as well as the consumer,” she says.

Milan Sharma says it is important to train farm labours to ensure optimum health of animals. Pic: Revnar Foods 30stades
Milan Sharma says it is important to train farm labours to ensure optimum health of animals. Pic: Revnar Foods

She is also teaching other dairy farmers to adopt Ayurveda treatments for their bovines. “Antibiotics eventually find their way into the milk which we drink. I tell farmers to use Ayurveda instead. It is a bit laborious but safer for the animals and humans and saves money,” she says.

Also Read: Jayant Barve: Maharashtra’s organic farmer who became manure millionaire

Milan says plants like turmeric, ginger, aloe vera, neem, bel, moringa and jamun are mostly used in treatments and are easily available on farms.

Along with dairy farming, Milan and her family are also doing natural farming. “We could not sustain only with dairy farming and natural farming was a natural extension of dairy farming. We have 21 acres of land in Mathura where my husband’s uncles and brothers live. We have heaps of cow dung and urine which I thought could be used to make organic pesticides and jeevamrit fertiliser for the crops. So, we started natural farming,” she says.

They follow Subhash Palekar’s zero budget natural farming and grow mustard, sesame, jowar, bajra, various pulses and millets.

Given her long experience, Milan is passing on her knowledge to scores of farmers through training sessions and talks at various institutes such as NDRI, the animal husbandry department of Haryana and CIRC, Meerut. The institutes also arrange visits of farmers and veterinary surgeons to her farm to learn from her practices.

Also Read: In shortage of vets, Pashu Sakhis support cattle & poultry farmers in Jharkhand’s tribal hinterland

Milan Sharma uses cow dung and urine to make biofertilisers and pesticides for use in natural farming. Pic: Revnar Foods 30stades
Milan Sharma uses cow dung and urine to make biofertilisers and pesticides for use in natural farming. Pic: Revnar Foods

She was also felicitated by NDRI as a progressive farmer-entrepreneur.

Now Milan plans to set up a community biogas plant in her village with help from the state government. The project will provide free gas to villagers. “The farmers will learn proper utilization of cow dung. And they can use the waste of the biogas plant as organic manure in the fields, cutting the use on fertilisers,” she says.

Milan admits that running a farm is hard work. “I work 24×7. But it’s been a wonderful, learning process, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. I tell people, “Associate with a family farmer and reduce your dependence on the family doctor.”

(Urvashi Dev Rawal is a Jaipur-based journalist specialising in development, gender, and political reporting)

Also Read: Gau Organics: Engineer-turned-dairy farmer sets up Rs 8 crore organic business in Kota; helps increase incomes of other farmers 

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2 thoughts on “From German language teacher to millionaire dairy farmer, how Milan Sharma whipped up a success story

  1. NAZIR MANGÁ says:

    GOOD DAY.
    “FROM GERMAN L…” IS AN INTERESTING AND INSPIRING STORY/INFORMATION.
    GOOD LUCK FOR MS MILAN SHARMA AND THANK YOU TO MS URVASHI DEV RAWAL FOR THE ARTICLE.
    LOOKING FORWARD TO LEARN FROM THESE EXPERIENCES.
    I’M A FARMER IN MOZAMBIQUE.
    WHATSAPP 00258845211666.

  2. Mohd Asim says:

    I’m also trying to start dary farm but in village it’s very tuff how we will supply milk and i saw 3 dary going to shutt off

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