Imagine an MBA graduate working successfully in a multinational firm. After a few years, he gives it all up and becomes a farmer, and helps many other farmers in his village with just one idea, mushrooms!
Pragnesh Patel is now changing the lives of many farmers with his simple business model. His small 18 x 45 foot-shed is earning him an extra Rs 4.2 lakh per year.
After his graduation, Pragnesh went abroad to work for a multinational firm. He was very successful in his job. After working for three years, he started feeling the monotony of daily life and wanted to do something different. That’s when he decided to return to India. After coming back, he started working in Abbott in marketing strategy.
During the course of his job, Pragnesh noticed the deteriorating health of his colleagues because of bad food habits. He realized how insecticide integration in farming is causing some serious health problems. After his vigorous research, he understood the importance of organic food growing. He started looking for various ideas and high value cultivates that could be grown in limited space.
Pragnesh found out about organic mushroom farming. Mushrooms were the kind of cultivates that needed small efforts and produced big gains. He utilized his time and learned everything about mushroom cultivation from YouTube and decided to go with oyster mushrooms. After getting his hands on some oyster mushroom spawn from a local store in Gujarat, Pragnesh setup a small bamboo shade on the small piece of land he owned and installed some bamboo cylinders there. In his first cultivation, he got a produce of 100 kg oyster mushrooms.
Pragnesh faced many challenges in his work. The initial problem was to find a market for his produce. This is when he made use of his marketing expertise and started working hard. After sometime, he was able to sell most of the produce locally.
“I started making a number of two-sided leaflets. One side explained the health benefits of oyster mushrooms while another one mentioned few recipes people could try,” says Pragnesh.
Soon enough, people started believing in him and the sale increased. The next time, Pragnesh sold mushrooms in local markets for Rs 200 per kg.
But things weren’t as easy as they seemed. Mushrooms are very perishable and have a very limited shelf life. To make sure that nothing was wasted, Pragnesh would then dry those extra cultivates in a solar dryer and sell them with the fresh ones in the market. Since the quality of old stock would deteriorate, Pragnesh would keep on supplying the mushrooms constantly.
He observed a continual growth in his business. His second produce amounted to 150 kg. Today, Pragnesh’s farm boasts of about 700 kg per four months. He started earning Rs 4.2 lakhs per year just from a small 45-foot shed.
Pragnesh plans to supply mushroom beds to the farmers who just need to water the beds whilst maintaining the environment. He has also promised the farmers to purchase the cultivates they produce if they aren’t able to sell them in the market.
“I want to make it very simple for farmers. I can supply everything they need, from spawns, to growing medium. I want to help them earn extra income by cultivating mushrooms and reach out to as many farmers as I can,” says Pragnesh.
Pragnesh’s efforts and perseverance has paid him the best results. 25 local farmers are starting their own oyster mushroom cultivation farm. Seeking the help from Krishi Vigyan Kendra he’s planning to turn his whole village into organic produce major. His village has been finally adopted and its farmers are being given appropriate training through workshops and seminars.
We need more change makers like Pragnesh who shape the society with their hard work and intelligence.