NGO Lakshyam has launched its range of organic products through its social venture Holy Cow Lakshyam. The products are made from cow dung and cow urine These handmade products are environment-friendly and free of any chemicals. The products fall under four categories viz gardening care, spiritual care, health care, and home utility care. Life And More spoke to the two founders – Anuradha Modi and Raashi Anand – about the social enterprise in detail.
Anuradha Modi (left) and Raashi Anand (right)
Tell us how and when did Holy Cow Lakshyam come into being – we want to know the story behind it, including the challenges you faced?
Anuradha Modi: Lakshyam is an NGO working for child education, development, and women empowerment. In over a decade we have impacted the lives of one million people. With a vision to impact the lives of our three mothers- Cow, Women & Earth, we started the social venture named Holy Cow Lakshyam.
Through this venture, we have reintroduced products that have been a part of our culture over the ages, written in our scriptures & now scientifically tested as well, i.e. products made from cow dung & cow urine.
We are working to bring a holistic impact to society by creating products for the benefit of the community that is environment friendly, healthy, chemical-free, and handmade, thus generating a source of employment for rural women and trying to tackle one of the biggest problems of our country ‘Cattle Management’.
We have collaborated with Shree Mataji Gaushala and Holy Cow Foundation and taken up the marketing of the products under this brand name.
Raashi Anand: There are many challenges. The market that we have entered into is a niche category. Maintaining the sales of our products has been tough. Most of our products are such which we do not use regularly in our daily lives. Also, people are not very open to using cow dung and cow urine products. However, the scenario is changing as more people are becoming aware of the benefits of these natural cow-based products.
Chawanprash (left) and cow dung cakes (right)
What sort of R&D has gone into the manufacture of these products How do you ensure that these products are safe for use?
Raashi Anand: Desi cow dung, irrespective of whether it is from adopted or abandoned cows, has lots of power and potential. The nutritional value in the excreta doesn’t get lost even if it’s a stray cattle. Since the cows are fed properly and taken care of under professional supervision, even the unhealthy ones become fine with the treatment and food are given.
As per Dr Mukesh (Practitioner of Ayurvedic Products), who works at the Gaushala, the nutritional value remains intact and even if there are any problems in the excreta of cows, it is always checked in the research lab that has been set up before using it for making the products. This doctor been formulating and mixing the ingredients to make compositions for products in the gaushala. And our products are certified and hence people can trust on its usage.
Cow dung diyas (left) and incense sticks (right)
What kind of response have you received from buyers? Are people open to purchasing these products?
Anuradha Modi: The response has not been great as of now. These are the products that people don’t use much in their daily lives. The market of products made from cow dung and cow urine needs more awareness. We have to convince people a lot to buy these products. But looking at the current scenario, when people are becoming conscious about health, lifestyle and also about the source from where the product is coming we firmly believe that people would be more acceptable and open towards buying such products.
How do you educate and convince people to buy your products?
Raashi Anand: We tell them about the benefits and advantages of our products through our website, social media, events, print media, etc. Cows have been considered sacred in the Hindu religion and our country has a very deep connection and love for cows. We approach our customers by saying that – Every product you buy, empowers the lives of our three mothers – Cow, Women, and Earth. Since we are working on a social model, we are giving people the opportunity to play an important role in the protection of our cows, empowering women, and caring for nature. With this motto, we convince people that not only they are our customers, but more than that. We believe in giving each person an opportunity to play a role in supporting this cause, all they need to do is just stop using chemical-based products and go for natural products like ours.
Havan Samagri (left) and cow dung manure (right)
What is the buyer profile, and from which areas do you get the demand.
Anuradha Modi: Most of our demand comes from North India. Our buyers are the ones who have an attachment and love for cows, like using eco-friendly, organic, and cow-based products. Our customer would be someone who is health-conscious, animal lover, environmental enthusiast, a user of Ayurvedic products, and has religious sentiments. Our target customers would be upper-middle and higher-income classes.
Many of our orders come from individuals who have tried our products, know about it, or are looking for something for a specific purpose like distilled Cow urine which we sell in the form of a health tonic.
How do you go about making these products – tell us the whole process?.
Raashi Anand: All the necessary equipment and workforce required for making these products is at the Gaushala in Barsana, Mathura. The cow urine and cow dung from the cows are used to manufacture the products by women working there after getting the approval of the research lab inside the gaushala. After the products are made, they are sent to us in Delhi where we pack them with eco-friendly materials. All the quality monitoring is done at our office in Delhi after getting the products.
Please share in detail how the initiative has helped 3,000 cows.
Raashi Anand: There are three stakeholders/ partners in this social enterprise namely Lakshyam NGO, Holy Cow Foundation, Shri Mataji Gaushala.
Holy Cow Foundation has helped cows over the years by providing them medication, treatment, shelter, and good food. A Cow Ambulance has been donated for rescuing the cows and provide medical assistance wherever necessary. All these measures have helped us serve 3000 cows directly.
Shree Mataji Gaushala itself has 56,000 cows that they have rescued, and it is run by Mr. Brijsharan and Mr. Chandramohan who have played such an important role in this noble cause.
Health tonic (left) and herbal tea (right)
What about garbage recycling – how 1,000 kg of garbage has been recycled and 50 gaushalas helped.
Anuradha Modi: We collect the used and dumped plastic bottles of one litre from various hotels and use them to fill phenyl liquid. The packaging of each product is made of eco-friendly materials like reusable plastic, corrugated boxes, bubble wraps, cardboard boxes, etc. The packing that goes for delivery is usually discarded cartons. We send a note to customers by printing a thank you message on a user page with a stamp, ensuring them that the packaging of our products is recyclable and eco-friendly.
We have helped 50 gaushalas by giving them funds for their maintenance, giving orders of products that they make, and providing material and machinery. All this is done with the help of our partner Holy Cow Foundation.
What are your future plans?
Anuradha Modi: We look forward to establishing our brand across India and later expand to international territories as well. Our aim would always be to serve our customers with the best organic products beneficial for the whole community and making an impact on the lives of our 3 mothers by safeguarding the Cows, Empowering Women, and Protecting our Planet Earth.
We want to get into institutional selling as well and make it a sustainable model. We believe that all Gaushalas can be self-sustainable if big institutes or companies can even give us orders for even a few products like phenyl, manure, and dhoop sticks to a social enterprise like us,
Raashi Anand: The stray cattle on the roads can be reduced in the coming years because of the new govt policies and changes. An example of it is that Madhya Pradesh Government that has made a mandate to use only the Phenyle made out of Cow Urine in government offices.
Also, the Chattisgarh government has made Cow dung products as part of MSME, where they are buying Cow dung and urine per kg and per liter. The reason behind it is to ensure that people are not leaving cows on the roads or killing cattle, as compared to earlier when people use to leave them as soon as the Cow stops giving milk. Slaughter policies also have become strict.
So keeping all things in mind like conscious awareness, government law changes, and promotion of concepts like making in India, we are working with a bigger vision on sustainability and creating a model which can be replicated, solve social issues and create money for all involved in this work.