P. Tamilselvi, a mushroom farmer from Tamil Nadu, has increased her income many times over by paying more attention to marketing.
Marketing plays an important role in agriculture. It can eliminate middlemen and ensure that all benefits go to the farmer. But in India, most growers don’t have the desire to market their produce – they feel that once a crop is grown and harvested, their job is done.
By making a little extra effort and exploring different marketing avenues, farmers can also increase their income. But for this, a proactive attitude and the right kind of atmosphere is needed.
For a farmer or group of farmers to take initiative is often a daunting task, and the lack of time is often cited when asked why marketing is not given more importance. But those who do make that extra effort have been known to succeed, and make a good case studies for others.
P. Tamilselvi is a farmer from a humble background, and today is well known in Tamil Nadu’s Erode district as the ‘mushroom lady’. A decade ago, she started cultivating mushroom cultivation on 15 farm beds. Once she found that the yield and demand were both encouraging, she started growing mushroom on 100 farm beds.
In the beginning Tamilselvi marketed her product locally, and later she expanded to several areas.
Starting out by earning Rs 400 a day, Tamilselvi managed to increase that to Rs 3,500 a day thanks to skills she picked up at the Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra (MYRADA-KVK). From marketing only mushrooms, she expanded her business to other agricultural products like coconuts and red bananas grown on her three acres of land.
“Instead of selling one banana for Rs 2 to traders, I sell one fruit for Rs 8-10 through direct selling. I have realised that agriculture is a more profitable enterprise if we plan well and sell crops ourselves. Instead of selling the produce at cheaper rates, my family gains more by selling the products directly to the consumers,” she smiles.
Tamilselvi she follows the integrated farming method and has a cattle farm, a poultry unit, a small flock of goats and ducks. Farm waste, including mushroom by-products, are used as manure for her land.
From 15 beds in 2011, today she has set up 600 beds in three sheds for growing mushrooms. She plans to extend her production to 1,000 beds.
Agriculture is more economical if farming is thought of as an enterprise, according to her. “Three things eat away at a major portion of investment in farming. First are the seeds, second the fertiliser/manures if you are going to buy from market and last, the labour. Certain crops do not require labour, for example the mushroom, which I take care of personally. The rest of the farm operations are handled by my husband,” she explains.
According to P. Alagesan, senior scientist and head of the MYRADA-KVK, farmers can plan their activities in such a way that a regular income is generated, instead of just an annual one-time income from mono cropping.
Tamilselvi’s annual profits are now at Rs 12,75,835, thanks to the integrated farming model along and her mushroom enterprise. According to Alagesan, the MYRADA-KVK is happy to guide others who needs vocational training for marketing.
For more information, contact P. Tamilselvi, N. Kondayampalayam village, Kuppandapalayam Post, Athani-Via, Anthiyur Taluk-638502, mobile no. +91877808428; or P. Alagesan at MYRADA, 272, Perumal Nagar, Puduvalliampalayam road, Kalingiam Post – 638 453, Gobichettipalayam taluk, Erode district, Tamil Nadu, phone no. 04285- 241626, email [email protected], website www.myradakvk.org.