It is a busy day for Ms. Rupali Kathar, resident of Erabari village, Sonapur, Assam, as she hauls her 2 pigs to the pork processing plant of Arohan Foods Pvt Ltd, which is located within 6 kms from her house. At the plant, the pigs are mechanically weighed and Rupali receives her payment which is 35% more than the local trader. She uses the income to meet the household expenses and to fulfil the basic needs of the family. Rupali is among the 2,800 poorest of the poor pig farmers of Assam and Meghalaya who are benefiting from their association with Arohan Foods. They not only receive a farm gate price but are also supported in terms of breeding (training and feed) and veterinary services which are lacking in the region.
Arohan Foods was started in 2013, by three entrepreneurs – Anabil Goswami, Arindom Hazarika, and Ranapratap Brahma who were fuelled by the passion of developing an inclusive business model benefiting the poor communities of the North Eastern (NE) region. Before setting up Arohan Foods, they did extensive research on its viability and even pilot tested few pork products from a processing unit of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Centre for Research on Pig, near Guwahati, Assam. Arohan Foods is fully compliant with national and international food and safety standards.
With an enviable distribution set up comprising of 600 general trade partners, modern retail stores, premium stores, and star hotels across India and in particular North East India, Arohan Foods has launched and scaled a multi-brand portfolio of value added premium pork products with over 45 Stock Keeping Units across four product categories.
Speaking on Arohan Foods, Arindom shared, “Pig rearing –as a source of food as well as additional income, is an integral part of some of the tribes of the North Eastern region. We developed a business model where we partner and source directly from the farmers and the gains are passed on to the farmers in the form of a higher farm gate price for their animals, thus resulting in higher income for them. Healthy mature pigs are purchased from the farmers and brought to the factory, where the pigs are slaughtered, meat is processed, packaged, and sent to the market.”
Currently, Arohan Foods sources pigs from 8 districts of Assam and 2 districts of Meghalaya, through a vibrant network of 400 exclusive and 2000 associate farmers. Seeing the market potential for expansion, Arohan Foods entered into a partnership with ICCO Investments under which Arohan Foods plans to increase production capacity, build a model pig farm, and allied infrastructure.
“The capital support from ICCO Investments will help Arohan to increase its impact from 2,800 to 4000+ pig farmers, improve feed, vaccine and quality gene pool, enable training of farmers and improve efficiency of pig farming, and add back €6mn to the economy in 200 villages across 4 states by 2020,” shared Arvind Agarwal, South Asia Regional Investment Manager for ICCO Investments.
For ICCO Investments, this partnership also aligns symbiotically with the regional program called North East Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (NERLPS), a joint venture between ICCO Cooperation, World Bank and the North East states, where one of the prime objectives is to develop a piggery value chain.