Nandri.org is an Irish charity also called a not for profit organisation. All of the funds we raise are distributed through an Indian registered trust near Vellore in Tamil Nadu. We mainly work with Dalit and Dhobi communities. Although the local motto is “need not creed”.
Our objective is the education of children and the improvement of the living standards of our client mothers. We use micro-finance for income generation projects and various other programmes including child sponsorship, mothers’ self-help groups, training and health.
In December 2013 we seized an opportunity to rent 10 acres of land. This land had reasonable water supply, but had not been utilised to its full due to lack of capital. We reckoned that with a small amount of investment in infrastructure and stock, this could turn into a profitable farm. We were right. We are well on the way to covering the operating costs of our partner in India, ensuring that more of our money is use on our projects.
Almost a year later, we have built the infrastructure, including a building for cows who, unlike Irish cows don’t like the rain. It doesn’t rain very much, but when it rains, it comes down very heavy. We have a number of units to house chicks which will later become free range organic chickens for the tables of Chennai. We have 3 acres in rice paddy and the rest in groundnuts or peanuts and feed for our cattle.
Our 21 cows are now producing regular income from the sale of milk. All our feed is organic so we ultimately hope to get a premium price and milk prices are increasing anyway in India. We will sell our male calves normally at six months to a year old. Very little beef is consumed in India as cows are regarded as sacred. Our female calves will become mothers so we can increase our herd and our income.
We built some units to house three day-old chicks which need to be kept in a constant temperature. Electricity is not a guarantee in India, so we have invested in solar panels to ensure a constant temperature. The solar panels are also used to provide electricity for lighting and for water pumps. Once the chicks are three weeks to a month old they are then allowed to run round in a fenced area, but free to eat the plants and insects. We have entered into a partnership with the company in Chennai to market our organic free range chickens or country chickens as they are called in India.
We intend to set up a number of our 1500 mothers with small chicken units. We will provide them with feed, housing, fencing and 100 three week old chicks which we will then buy back at four months old. This will provide these mothers with an income. We intend to operate the same system with a number of local orphanages, which will also provide them with an income.
We also created a large fish pond and stocked it with 2000 fish. We have 250 ducks and through the miracles of nature the residue from the ducks is eaten by the fish who in turn produce residue which ends up as food for the ducks. I am an accountant, so I don’t really understand these things, but it works and we have income from duck eggs and soon fish, without much costs.
We currently have about 3000 chicks and once we have mastered the production of organic free range chicken we will increase our numbers. Shortly we will be running training programs for our mothers in how best to look after their cows and chickens. We are in the process of acquiring land close to the Nandri farm where we hope to build a rural development centre. This will have training rooms, sufficient space for a constant stream of visiting mothers. Accommodation for volunteers and of course, office accommodation for our staff.
Overall, this is turning out to be a successful programme. We are making a profit for us and others. We are providing products for our client mothers to sell. We are also providing training. We will be pleased when the profit we make will cover the operating costs so that we can focus on diverting all of our money to our programmes.