Safeguarding Asia’s future: innovations to keep us eating, drinking healthy (part 1)

19 Apr 2018   

India-based social enterprise Kheyti has designed a low-cost, modular greenhouse with end-to- end services, to help farmers increase their yield and predictability of produce.

These winners of the DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme are making a difference in agriculture

In this series on safeguarding Asia’s future, we look at the innovative solutions being developed by social enterprises supported by the DBS Foundation, through its Social Enterprise Grant Programme The full set of stories is available here.

Safe milk from small scale farms and a specially-designed greenhouse. These are some innovative solutions that winners of the 2017 DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant Programme are undertaking to improve agriculture in Asia. Read on to find out about the issues they seek to address, their successes and inspirations!

Watch DBS: Food for a Healthy Asian Future 1:41

Pure Milk

Pure Milk is enriching the Taiwan dairy industry by selling safe milk bought at fair trade prices from small scale farms. Each bottle of milk is processed under excellent conditions and labelled with source information so consumers know which farm the milk came from. Pure Milk also supports training for cattle vets and works with other social enterprises in Taiwan on logistics fulfilment and delivery services.

The DBS Foundation’s social enterprise grant will help Pure Milk strengthen its branding, establish SOPs, data management systems and market intelligence on dairy products and logistics as well as build equipment in cold chain logistics. We speak with Che-Yu Kuo, Co-founder.

1. What issues does Pure Milk seek to address?

Three years ago, there were four main problems in Taiwan's dairy industry: dairy farmers did not reap reasonable profits, consumers could not differentiate between products on the market and their sources, there were too few dairy cattle veterinarians, and local dairy farmers’ livelihoods were threatened by imported products.

To solve these problems, Pure Milk wants to bridge the gap between consumers and dairy farmers. We acquire milk from dairy farmers in a fair trade manner, and process and package them without additives. We’ve also set up a dairy veterinarian fund to increase the number of dairy veterinarians in the industry.

2. What inspired the start of Pure Milk?

There were food safety incidents in Taiwan in 2010, and consumers were boycotting big brands. Dairy farmers inadvertently became collateral damage. Pure Milk’s founder, Kung Chien-Chia, a vet who made house calls, realised there were many problems with the dairy industry after careful observation. To solve these industry specific problems and to promote sustainable development, he started a mass fund-raising project called “save your own fresh milk”.

Through two crowdfunding campaigns, we raised over 11,500,000 NTD, and became one of the rare F&B brands in Taiwan to have successfully hit crowdfunding targets twice.

Because of this, many members of the public and media often refer to Pure Milk as the first bottle of milk developed from the power of the public.


India-based social enterprise Kheyti helps smallholder farmers increase the yield and predictability of their produce. Their social innovation, the “Greenhouse-in- a-Box” (GIB), is a specially-designed, low-cost, modular greenhouse bundled with end-to- end services.

The greenhouse fits in very small areas, protects crops from environmental risks and helps farmers grow seven times more food using 90% less water. Its netting cuts out pests by 90% and shading reduces heat and extends the growing season. Most importantly, it cuts out the risks from climate change, ensuring that farmers earn steady incomes.

Apart from providing technology, Kheyti works with partners to extend farmer financing, input linkages, ongoing production advice as well as market linkages, creating a seamless path towards assured supplemental incomes of USD 100/month.

The DBS Foundation’s social enterprise grant will be used to drive the product to full scale commercial launch. We speak with Kaushik K, Co-Founder & CEO.

What issues does Kheyti seek to address?

We are helping smallholder farmers battle income variability that comes from climate risks.

There are 500 million small farmers across the world. These farmers work hard all year long but every year there is a different external factor – heat, rain, pests – that wipe out their profits. Simply put, their hard work doesn't pay.

This situation is getting worse year on year with climate change. Considering small farmers grow 80% of food globally – this is now a crisis that affects everyone

What are some of your successes and plans?

Kheyti has proved that the solution works by selling the Greenhouse-in- a-Box to 50 pilot farmers to date – farmers that are now earning steady, dependable incomes month on month. This year, we are launching the programme with 100 farmers and will continue to gather data on farmer economics while building the product, systems and organisation to be ready for scale. We will expand the programme to 2,000 farmers next year.

For more social enterprises working to make a difference in agriculture, read: Safeguarding Asia’s future: innovations to keep us eating, drinking healthy (part 2).

The DBS Foundation’s Social Enterprise Grant Programme encourages innovation by social enterprises to meet complex social needs. The grant enables social enterprises to develop their prototype into a working model, improve existing processes or add critical capabilities to achieve sustainability, or scale up their existing business that leads to greater social impact. Find out more!