AUSTIN (KXAN) — When Amod Daherkar first arrived on the University of Texas campus, the 19-year-old knew he wanted to spend his time building something with the potential to help save the planet.
That drive has since helped him co-found a company, and travel to Botswana to put his ideas to the test.
The sophomore finance student is now the co-founder of an app and company called Gazelle Ecosolutions. Daherkar and a team of UT students and professors have found a way to monetize sustainable ranching.
“Gazelle helps cattle ranchers sustainably manage grasslands, and ecologically sensitive ecosystems, while helping them monetize the carbon value of their land,” Daherkar said. “Essentially, we’re paying people to do conservation work on grassland ecosystems.”
So how does a group of college students come up with the money to pay ranchers? They don’t. Instead, they help connect companies looking to go net zero and offset their emissions.
“We’re helping folks who are in the regenerative (agriculture) space and good stewards of their land, quantify, and measure, and track and verify improvements in carbon sequestration, or the capture of CO2 from the atmosphere by nature, and we sell those carbon credits,” Daherkar said.
The product and principles were put to the test when the team traveled to Botswana last summer where they lived with ranchers for six weeks.
They wanted to immerse themselves as best as they could to gain the trust of the ranchers and better understand their needs.
“You’ve got more cattle than people, land management systems aren’t really in place, and so you’ve got rampant overgrazing across a lot of the country,” Daherkar said.
In exchange for removing cattle from their herd, Gazelle would pay the ranchers with money from those companies that bought carbon credits in an effort to be more sustainable.
Gazelle said last year it helped offset more than a million tons of carbon dioxide. It’s already projecting it’ll offset another 10 to 15 million tons by the end of this year.
After a successful start in Africa, the team is now turning its focus closer to home.
“Now we’re shifting gears and bringing it back home here to Texas, and we’re starting to develop some initial pilot projects with ranchers,” Daherkar said.