I have gone to my friend Santhosh Singh’s farm before, but quite a lot has changed since our visit. First, Santhosh gave it name — Amrutha Dairy Farm. But later decided to not put up signs anywhere. Why? We’ll get to that later.
Amrutha Dairy Farm is located in Haalenahalli, Madhure Hobli, Doddaballapura.
I mean, here’s a map of its location.
Beyond that, all I can say is: good luck finding it on your first try!
It is a bit of a challenge to find the farm, but if you follow the direction path highlighted on Google Maps, you can get there with relative ease if you use your phone as a GPS device.
The dairy farm was set up nearly 4 years ago. The initial plan was to setup a milk processing center, but when Santhosh realized the heavy investment that was required, he realized it would be better just starting off with just producing milk for the time being, and slowly ramp up.
Santosh is parallely working on a heifer rearing project (heifer is a young cow before she has had her first calf). This is to contain the operational costs on the business, such as drought in the area for consecutive years. So yeah, like many Indians, even these guys suffer from water and electricity problems. They also have a hydroponics system which can produce very nutritious green fodder (up to 1ton per day) and this was built completely from scratch by them after taking technical help from some guys in Europe and New Zealand.
When word spread about Amrutha Dairy Farms, a Netherlands-based group came to India and approached Santhosh to join hands with the farm to set up a milk processing plant to produce products like khova, paneer and cheese.
Santhosh and his family aren’t vegetarians but they don’t eat any bird they raise either. The animals are simple residents of the farm and give Santosh and his brothers company.
Nowadays though, Santhosh and his brothers are busy tending to visitors — some welcome, and some not. Due to the close proximity of farm from Bangalore city, many dairy enthusiasts or curious bypassers used to frequent the farm. Sometimes the number of visitors went up to around 15-20 groups a week. Santhosh and his brothers started losing productive time and this gave them the idea to introduce commercial dairy workshops. This way, they could help people in understanding the challenges of dairy farming and supplement their income by charging participants a nominal fee. This helped in filtering out people who would visit just to see the place like a weekend getaway. Santhosh and his brother are now firm, and turn away all strangers who just enter the farm and ask questions. That’s why they decided not to put up any signs with the name of the farm.
While his brothers manage the farm and handle the milk side of things, Santhosh leads the effort in helping people setup their dairy project by providing consulting. They have trained over 150 individuals from all over the country, about a 100 bank officers and over 1000 college and school Students at the farm. When we were there, it wasn’t uncommon to hear many seniors calling Santhosh and looking to get into farming — dairy or otherwise — as a post-retirement job.
Me and my friends are proud to know Santhosh. We don’t know of many of people who gave up their cushy, air-conditioned office jobs to get their hand dirty and face adversities India’s farmers constantly face. Water supply, erratic power supply, poor road connectivity… when you see it first hand, you realize just how hard things can be for farmers in India. Of course, Santhosh and his brothers being well educated, know how to get by and worked on solutions to counter these challenges. It brought a smile to our faces when a neighbouring villager came all the way to Santhosh to get a letter typed because: a) Santhosh knows English b) Santhosh is probably the only man in the village who owns a laptop!
As the sun was setting, my friend and I decided to unpack a tent I had brought. The purpose was to compare my tent to the 2-second tent from Quechua (available at Decathlon). Santhosh had one of the 2-second tents. First, we set up our tent… which was some ‘Made in China’ tent I picked up from Carrefour (supermarket) in Dubai. It was cheap, and thus came with limited instructions. We figured it out, but it took us nearly half-an-hour to set up my tent.
Then my friend opened up the Quechua 2-second tent.
Anyway, we were planning to spend the evening at Santhosh’s farm. Santhosh and his brothers spend much of the week at the farm, so they try and be as self-sufficient as possible. To that extent, they even made a wood fire oven to bake stuff in
We didn’t stay too late as Santhosh had another group visiting the farm for a workshop the following day. If anybody is interested in the workshop, you may call Santhosh at +98451 90600. It costs Rs. 2500 per adult, and that includes food. The food will be prepared at the farm as per your requirement (veg or non-veg). No group discounts. For schools and colleges, just call Santhosh and he shall let you know about the price.
P.S: DO NOT show up uninvited or without prior information. And please, only genuinely interested parties need call Santhosh and drop by his farm. Just because a few of his friends drop by and make pizzas doesn’t mean you can show up at the farm and expect a party to be thrown in your favour. We ourselves only visit Santhosh once or twice a year.