Vet Ventures

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With two major patents and an ISO 9001:2008 certification to his name Dr Fayaz Ganaie’s Truevet has put Kashmir on global pharmaceuticals map. Saima Bhat reports how an aspiring civil servant ended up designing, developing and manufacturing animal feed additives

Truevet-force

Truevet: Dr Fayaz Ganaie (3rd from left) with his team at their Nowgam, Srinagar office.

Thirty-two-year-old Dr Fayaz Ganaie, a veterinary doctor by profession, could not help but reminisce about his visit to Germany in 2013. He was on an official trip as Global Product Manager for Nuticare life sciences, an Indian company with operations in more than 13 countries.

After the official meeting, a European lady asked Dr Fayaz, “What more do you want to achieve in life. You are representing one of India’s topmost company?”

Candidly Dr Fayaz replied, “I wish to crack civil services and be a bureaucrat.”

“But aren’t you one yet?” the lady asked surprisingly.

When Dr Fayaz made her understand what it means to be a civil servant or a bureaucrat in Kashmir, the look on her face changed and she shot back, “Oh. You want to be a clerk!”

For next many nights, the word “clerk” ringed in Dr Fayaz’s mind. “That was when I decided to be something more than a petty clerk,” says Dr Fayaz, the owner of Truevet (True Veterinary) – a private limited company, engaged in designing, developing, marketing and export of veterinary pharmaceuticals and animal feed additives.

From his previous job at Hyderabad, Dr Fayaz instantly recalled one peon’s extraordinary tale of success. The peon left his job and started a pharmaceutical company in Uttrakhand. Within a year the company registered a turnover of Rs 5 crore. “I thought if he could do it, why can’t I?”

With his eyes set on pharmaceutical business, Dr Fayaz quit his job at  Cargill Provimi’s Bangalore office and returned home. Cargill Provimi is USA’s 8th largest company (as per Fortune 500) and one of the largest privately held corporations in US in terms of revenue (US $134.9 billion).

But back home Truevet has earned two patents to its name. “It is a great achievement given we started just six months back,” says Dr Fayaz proudly.

Truevet has also successfully launched Truecoc (for Coccidiosis diseases in birds and animals), for Taiwan market. “We are also manufacturing 24 products for eleven different countries.”

Since 2009, till he started Truevet, Dr Fayaz has worked with five multinational companies including Provimi, Arosol, Zydus and Nestle. “My work used to take me to different countries. I have visited 18 in total. But there is nothing like home,” says Dr Fayaz with a flash of smile.

But despite his international exposure and knowledge of the pharmaceuticals, establishing a business in conflict-ridden and corruption infested Kashmir was not easy. “After I made the business proposal I realized that I don’t have the necessary financial resources to start my venture,” says Dr Fayaz.

The most viable option for Dr Fayaz, a son of a lower rung government employee, was to seek financial assistance from one of his close friends. “He couldn’t invest.”

Left with no option Dr Fayaz approached local banks and an entrepreneur institute to get funding for his dream venture. “They wanted mortgage against their money and I had none. So I decided to pool in my savings.”

Around same time, Dr Fayaz came to know about Government of India’s special scheme for developing Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir as hub for biopharmaceuticals. The scheme provided 100 percent capital subsidy for such startups. “I realized that J&K has failed miserably to get benefitted from this scheme despite abundance of natural medicinal plants. Instead, Himachal Pardesh has become big MNC’s favourite destination,” says Dr Fayaz.

There are 200 registered biopharmaceutical companies located in J&K. Out of them only 50 are owned by the locals. Among them, only six are located in Kashmir out of which only two are functional.

Dr-Fayaz-with-Veterinary-pharmacists-in-Taiwan

Dr Fayaz with Chinese Veterinary pharmaceuticals distributors in Taiwan.

“It is a kind of regional disparity. All big MNCs like Cipla are located in Jammu. Not a single one operates from Kashmir valley.”

By mid-2014, Fayaz finally managed to start his office in Ganderbal, his hometown. The next step was to get his company registered. In September, he was all set to launch from a formal address at Nowgam area of Srinagar. “But September floods put everything on hold. I couldn’t start.”

However, by January 2015, Fayaz’s Truevet was functional with first major order from Taiwan for phytogenics medicines in their kitty. But there was one small glitch still to overcome: how to deliver the order as there was no factory in place yet! “I was still struggling with the paperwork,” recalls Dr Fayaz.

The only way out was to seek help from friends who owned manufacturing units of same nature. “So I started delivering orders with the help of third party arrangements. But I have to follow strict protocols and maintain standards as well.”

Dr Fayaz, who is working on One Health Plan (Animals, Humans and Environment), is in the process of setting up a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility for extraction of bioactives from locally available medicinal plants. “Such bioactives will be used for the production of a line of phytogenics products,” he informs.

Dr Fayaz claims that Phytogenics has a market worth US $ 500 million, after Europe, USA, Bangladesh and South Asia banned all AGPs (Antibiotic Growth Promoters) for developing multi-drug resistance in humans. According to World Health Organization, 80 percent of antibiotics were used in animals for sub-therapeutic use, which is not good for humans, as they consume dairy products like meat, milk, eggs, etc.

Ironically, despite 537 exclusive medicinal plant varieties available in Kashmir, budding entrepreneurs like Dr Fayaz are not allowed to use them. “Our state doesn’t allow private players like me to harvest medicinal plants at all. Neither do they extract it themselves.”

Dr Fayaz blames State’s Forest Department (SFD) for not allowing private cultivation of medicinal herbs. “They (SFD) have complete monopoly over the entire medicinal plants sector. They prefer to rot it rather than let people use it for good,” says Dr Fayaz.

Interestingly, there is no such law in place in any part of India that restricts public players from cultivating medicinal plants for commercial purpose except Kashmir.  “One fails to understand the logic behind such an archaic and unnecessary regulatory system!”

Experts claim that veterinary medicines have an annual market appetite of above Rs 42,000 Crore. But, despite such a vast resource of plants at its disposal, Kashmir lacks even a single manufacturing unit. “We are a consumer based society. We are not made to manufacture anything. Rather we consume what is being supplied to us,” says Dr Fayaz. “We should stop looking towards Delhi for our survival. We must invest our resources and energy in IT, and even Pharmaceuticals. Why can’t we?”

With two patents in hand (with approvals from registered companies), Dr Fayaz is planning to register 24 more. After Taiwan, he has successfully received orders from distributors for countries like Nigeria, Sudan (for 8 products), Canada (for 3 products), Armenia, and Turkey.

At present Dr Fayaz is busy expanding the list of medicines that he will both sell locally and export. He is planning to expand his operations by introducing his products in the Indian markets. As the workload will increase Dr Fayaz is expecting to increase his staff strength from present 9 employees to 50, respectively.

Also on the cards is an Herbal Extraction Plant, which will be constructed at a cost of Rs 4.5 Crore. Dr Fayaz claims that the plant will be only third of its kind in India. It will be fully robotic with latest fluid extraction technology. “I am expecting a turnover of Rs 10 Crore by next year,” he says.

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