Healthy Cows, Happy Farmers

This year's Bag2thefuture competition started in May: Among the nine international teams of Boehringer Ingelheim employees, the group of Healthy Cows, Happy Farmers were inspired to build a meaningful training for smallholder dairy farmers in Southern India. This idea was born already one year ago: The team, along with other colleagues, participated in an 'insights week' run by Boehringer Ingelheim's Making More Health back in February 2019 in Coimbatore, South India. While there, the team was exposed to a number of stakeholders in the Southern Indian dairy industry, as well as some of the challenges faced by the world's largest dairy-producing country. One notable learning from the week, staying in the rural at tribal areas, was the cultural importance of owning a cow in the country. This cultural influence, paired with a vast population, leads to many households owning 1-3 cows with little formal training on best farming practices. As a result, the weeklong initiative ended with the team members facilitating training with local producers to help overcome some routine obstacles.


More social intrapreneurship


Upon their return to their respective countries, the real work began. The group felt so strongly about the work done in India that they chose to regroup and refine their training in an effort to expand the reach and sustainability of their training. As a next step and based on local feedback, the group plans to secure a formal relationship with one of the local stakeholders – Milma Inc. – to support and collectively build a Train-the-Trainer program that targets real and perceived needs of local farmers. Training will be focused on topics like mastitis control, profitable dairy farming, and feeding management to better the lives of livestock and owners alike.


"We appreciate very much the opportunity to continue on our social project, to make it sustainable and impactful, and to work with colleagues with whom we have developed relationships" – Healthy Cows Happy Farmers team.


A different approach


The diverse team includes members from different countries like France, Italy, and India, etc. Through co-creation of Boehringer Ingelheim and Milma Inc., they plan to have a significant positive impact on south Indian dairy farmers. This "thinking out of the box" is the spirit of their intrapreneurial activities to make more health happen. 


This activity is one element of a huge bundle of initiatives in the Attapatti area to improve people's lives. Besides regular ongoing Animal health and human health trainings since 2015, also water projects, kindergarten buildings, hygiene trainings, digital and income generation projects are taking place, where Boehringer Ingelheim, social entrepeneurs, local NGOs and other local stakeholders co-create to change the ecosystem for better. The farming project Healthy Cows, Happy Farmers is on its way, and in one year, we will see more about the outcome. Good luck to the team!